Phil Willis’ Retirement as Member of Parliament
In 2007, Phil Willis shocked the UK public and political scene by announcing that he has decided to retire as Member of Parliament at the next General Election. He did not seek re-election as Member of Parliament for Harrogate and Knaresborough at the 2010 General Election. He supported Liberal Democrat Claire Kelley but the voters decided for the Conservative Andrew Jones instead. Although Jones won over Kelley only for 2 percent, the results of the 2010 General Election imply that it was probably Phil Willis who won the elections from 1997 to 2005 and not the party like many analysts speculate as Willis easily won over Jones at the 2001 General Election.
It is not entirely clear why Willis decided to retire as Member of Parliament but it seems that his decision is based on personal reasons, at least this is how his statements can be understood. He spent 13 years in Westminster and was the Liberal Democrat spokesman for education for 8 years. In an interview he gave to the Yorkshire Evening Post, he also said that one of the reasons for his retirement is disappointment over the Westminster politics. But it is probably also related to inability to carry out his educational policy which could make the UK’s educational system a lot better considering his contribution to education while he was a teacher.
Willis’ retirement is a major loss for both the left-wing politics and UK’s educational system because he worked hard to raise the educational system on a higher level. At the same time, he established himself as one of the leading left-wing politicians who enjoyed huge popularity in the UK’s public. But on the other hand, he will be remembered for leaving at his height which was according to a letter to the local party that was published in the BBC also his intention. He stated that it was always his aim to retreat from the front-line politics while he is at the top.
Phil Willis may have left the Parliament behind him, however, he apparently is not ready to retire from politics just yet. In June, he was made life peer as Baron Willis of Knaresborough and one month later, he became the member of the House of Lords. Shortly after he was introduced to the House of Lords, he also became a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee (before he retired as Member of Parliament, he was also Chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee). In November 2010, Willis was chosen as the Chair of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), an organization which joins virtually all UK’s medical research charities and spends more than £1 billion for medical research. And considering Willis’ passion for science, plan to make the UK a leader in medical research and the fact that he took over the AMRC chair from Baroness Cumberlege in highly uncertain times, he probably will not have much time to enjoy his retirement from the Parliament.