I have published Labour and Green views on Sarah Teather's decision not to stand again. Here, in a guest blog, is the view from Alison Hopkins, Liberal Democrat councillor for Dollis Hill
Sarah called me on Saturday to tell me personally of her decision not to stand again in 2014. I was and am very saddened, both on a personal and professional level. I’ve known her for many years, first coming into contact when, like thousands of other Brent residents, she helped me with a problem that no one else had managed to fix. I then got to know her better through her sterling and invaluable efforts to help the campaign against the Brent Cross plans, which meant chaos for Dollis Hill and the wider Brent area. I still remember how trenchant and forthright she was at public meetings with the developers and I realised then that this was a woman with a sense of purpose, fiercely intelligent and not afraid to say what she thought.
As a result of getting to know her better I decided to enter politics properly, having campaigned and worked locally for decades, as I could see that far more could be achieved within a more formal role. I campaigned for her in the 2010 general election and it was one of the most exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding things I’ve ever done – only bettered by being a councillor in Dollis Hill! Our team proved that despite the predictions of victory from Labour and figures suggesting otherwise, we could turn a notional loss into a pretty good win. I’m absolutely sure that most of that was down to Sarah’s record of working her socks off for local people, knowing Brent in minute detail – I swear she has the electoral roll in her head – and to her brilliant local office. Brent has had the luxury of a local MP, with help accessible five days a week to constituents: how many other constituencies get that level of commitment?
Her hidden secret is she's also a great pastry cook: the Brent Cross coalition were fed amazing cookies the first time we met her formally in the Commons and she’s notorious for feeding her helpers and staff. Most people see her serious side, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see her sitting on my dining room floor giggling uncontrollably during my by election.
I’ve not always agreed with her decisions or the way she’s voted, but I’ve never had the least doubt that she hasn't thought long and hard about everything she’s ever done as an MP. I also know that any decision she makes comes from a strong sense of right and wrong, from conscience and from an ethical and moral framework that I wish more people generally had. She gets angry with injustice, whatever its form, and she won’t pander to the popular or take the easy way out.
One of my neighbours sent me an email about her, and I think it says it all: “Really sorry she’s going. Worked hard and kept her nose clean.” I’ve no idea what she’ll do next, but I’m absolutely certain that whatever it is, she’ll make a difference to people’s lives for the better, just as she has for the past decade in Brent.