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Putting old MP warhorses out to graze is painful - even when they are overdue for dispatch to the knackers' yard.

One middle England Tory constituency failed by one vote to de-select their decrepit member, they were determine to oust him /next time'. They allowed him to stand a second time because he promised that it would be his last.

To reinforce the pledge the constituency arranged a flash valedictory dinner for him. As the booze flowed, the tributes to our beloved MP became extravagant. 'A gallant soldier...the best constituency MP anyone could possibly have ... We could never express the full scale of our gratitude to him...''

The geriatric MP was deeply moved and deeply inebriated. When he rose to speech tears rolled down his cheeks "My dear, dear friend. I never knew how much you appreciated the work I do for you. What an ingrate I would be if I deserted you now. In appreciation of what you have said, I promise that I will stand as your candidate at the next election....""

They cheered loudly. In the sober dawn they asked themselves. 'What have we done ? We're stuck with him for another five years..'