Reflections on Derby South MP Margaret Beckett following retirement announcement

Political Correspondent Alison Mackenzie reflects in 2019 on dame Margaret Beckett's life

One of my favourite news items to edit in recent times was a look back on the career of Margaret Beckett after she had completed 45 years as an MP - having first been elected in 1974 for Lincoln.

As ever she was completely modest and unassuming in her assessment of her own hugely impressive and extensive political career.

At her side throughout had been husband Leo - he became her office manager after they met and married in 1979.

Perhaps his sad passing last year is one of the reasons why Margaret Beckett has decided to finally step down at the next election after so many years of service.

Although she had been a key figure in Labour governments and had once stood for leadership of the party her key focus was and remains her own constituents in Derby.

The MP says she will step down at the next general election. Credit: PA

I wIll remember as I waited to interview her watching her in action late one Friday in a constituency surgery in the entrance area to Derby City council. She was listening carefully to the concerns of people dealing with housing problems - debt issues and in some cases threats of deportation . At all times she stressed that she was there to help.

She has been a key campaigner for local issues - not least concern over jobs at Rolls Royce and - when I first became Political Correspondent- it was the fight to save Bombardier.

I am sure it will not have been an easy decision for Margaret Beckett to have decided to retire as an MP. Westminster will be the poorer - but I am sure she will miss her responsibilities in Derby far more.