BUCKS: Labour general election candidate for Wycombe resigns
11:15am Wednesday 5th November 2008 in Local Politics
The man chosen by Labour to contest the Wycombe seat at the next general election has resigned from the post.
Ralph Ashenhurst will not stand for the party because of work commitments, a Labour boss said.
John Barlow, chairman of the district’s Labour party, said Mr Ashenhurst had taken a job which would not allow him to stand.
Mr Ashenhurst, selected in June, was unavailable for comment.
It is the latest blow to the party after two councillors, one of which fought the last general election, defected to the Liberal Democrats.
This means Labour now has no seats on the Tory-dominated Buckinghamshire County Council.
Mr Ashenhurst, who lives in High Wycombe, had to step down after being made director of membership and regions at the Royal British Legion, Mr Barlow said.
He said: “They expect him to be non-political. He is still a Labour party supporter, he is still going to do whatever he can behind the scenes.
“It is a great shame but people have to earn a living.”
Mr Barlow said: “I thought he was a great candidate so I am disappointed he has stood down.”
Mr Barlow said the party hoped to select a new member in January.
This summer Wycombe District Council and county council members Julia Wassell and Chaudhary Ditta left the party for the Liberal Democrats.
Cllr Wassell, who stood for Labour in 2005, said relations had soured between her and party leaders.
Labour then brought a district council standards probe alleging she was rude to an independent councillor – but this found the allegations were “politically motivated”.
Labour came second at the 2005 election with 13,280 votes to Conservative Paul Goodman’s 20,331 votes.
This was a fall of 5.4 per cent for Labour compared to the 2001 poll – and a rise of 3.4 per cent for the Tories.
Mr Goodman said: “I know Ralph less well than I would like and I wish him well with whatever he is now doing.”
According to his Labour biography Mr Ashenhurst is a former group captain in the RAF and served in Germany, the Middle East, Central America and Northern Ireland.
After being selected he said: “Wycombe has flourished during ten years of Labour Government. “I now look forward to supporting the next Labour Government in bringing further advances especially in the areas of affordable housing, better education and a thriving NHS.”
The Royal British Legion today declined to comment.