Robert Key is a well-respected and effective MP for Salisbury and his retirement will in many ways leave a hole where a very substantial MP previously sat.
He has one of my favourite nicknames, because of his portly stature and because of his ministerial position at the Department of Transport he became known as the ‘Colossus of Roads,’ in the 1990s.
I’m sure the enthusiastic local Liberal Democrat PPC will see this as being a feather in his cap and make the seat that much more vulnerable to his party, but it is difficult to see this as a credible position for two reasons.
Firstly, the Liberal Democrats have chosen a young, dynamic and enthusiastic PPC to oppose an older, shall we say, less sporty, chap. But, with the Tories now likely to choose a young, dynamic Tory candidate, of their won, it is difficult to see that a Lib Dem candidate will, any longer, be able to have sole ownership of this Unique Selling Point.
Secondly, the Lib Dems have quite clearly moved their national strategy away from gaining Tory seats at the next election instead they are looking North for seats that the party can win off Labour, with only a few highly marginal seats, like Chippenham, left in the South West against the Tories.
However, enthusiastic candidates, who are fighting no hope seats like Salisbury with an 11,000 Conservative majority over the Liberal Democrats, should enjoy their moment in the local spotlight before returning to the day job in May.
We’ve all done it. Enjoy the ride Nick!