Veteran Black Country MP Bruce George has announced he is standing down following 36 years in Parliament - after struggling to cope with the rise of internet tools such as Facebook and YouTube in political campaigning.
The Labour MP for Walsall South, aged 67, said he believed in meeting constituents in the high street and inviting them into his home, rather than communicating through a computer.
But he also said he was standing down because it was time to make way for a younger candidate, and to spend more time with his wife, Lisa.
He said: “If you are a hard-working Member of Parliament, it is like being married twice - once to your constituency and once to your partner. It’s time to put my wife first.”
Mr George also said he was “appalled” by the behaviour of some MPs when details of their expenses claims emerged. He was not involved in any controversies and his claims were given a clean bill of health by Sir Thomas Legg last month.
The MP was a high-profile backbencher as chairman of the Defence Select Committee from 1997 to 2005. He won a majority of 7,946 in the 2005 general election ,which means the Labour candidate chosen to replace him should have a good chance of holding the seat in this year’s poll.
Mr George said: “I’m not too hot on modern technology. I’m very much into shaking hands and holding surgeries.
“Although I accept what is happening, I don’t fit too easily into this modern technology world that most Parliamentarians find themselves in.
“Most MPs now spend much of their time communicating without actually looking at people face-to-face, because that is the way technology is moving and the way politics is moving.
“But for me, I’m here in the constituency walking the streets and speaking to people. People know my address, and they come round if they need to speak to their MP.
“That’s how I survived this long, and I just don’t like the concept of non face-to-face communication.”
Labour may face another brutal battle to nominate a new candidate in Walsall South, with selection procedures already underway in Dudley South and Birmingham Erdington.
The timing of Mr George’s announcement, so close to polling day, means the national party based in London will play a larger role than usual in picking the next candidate.
He said: “I wanted to wait until the Legg report was out and exonerated my expenses, as it has done.
“If I had announced months earlier that I was going, I would have been accused of jumping because I had something to hide.”
He added: “I’m able to look my constituents in the eye.” But he had no sympathy with colleagues who had abused expenses, he said.