I was interested to read the article on Sir Nick Harvey and his comments about standing for the Liberal Democrats again to fight the North Devon seat against Peter Heaton-Jones, the Conservative candidate ("Tory candidate says he can win Nick seat", Journal, August 1).
The whole issue regarding MPs and their reward packages is an interesting one.
Last time round, when I was the Conservative candidate, Nick wasn't old enough and didn't qualify for his tax-free lump sum from his pension – and the generous annual pension income. Now, apparently he does.
The generous situation regarding MPs' redundancy still applies and in the past a sitting MP would have to fight an election and plan to lose, as the payments always used to be that much more generous than simply standing down.
A defeated MP is entitled to a maximum sum equal to a year's salary and £30,000 of it is tax-free lump, so Nick would do well with his service record and probably qualify for the maximum.
If he has done full years, that sum won't increase so there's no financial incentive to carry on.
Then there are generous resettlement grants of tens of thousands on top to cover closing the office and its staff (and cynically most of whom trot right into other jobs).
All that said, it will be a very different election in North Devon next time around because as many as 10,000 to 15,000 votes for the Liberal Democrats last time were really the "anything but the Tory candidate" votes and what did that do them? It returned the anathema of their wishes – a majority Conservative Government where Nick really rubbed their noses in it by becoming a minister for them till he was rudely sacked by his own leader!
Labour and the Greens could well have a resurgence in the constituency next time around. Memories in North Devon will be long so Nick had better watch out, and if a chance to retire up to the red benches arises, he would be well advised to take it.
PHILIP J MILTON,