Suffolk: Parliamentary map set to change at 2015 general election
PUBLISHED: 09:34 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:36 30 July 2014
By this time next year none of the county’s MPs will have served continuously before 2010.
Five of the current MPs: Ben Gummer, Dr Dan Poulter, Matt Hancock. Peter Aldous and Dr Therese Coffey were first elected in 2010.
South Suffolk’s Tim Yeo was first elected in 1983 – but he was deselected by his local Conservative Association earlier this year.
Now Bury St Edmunds’ David Ruffley, who entered the House of Commons in 1997, has reluctantly announced he will not stand again in the wake of the furore over his police caution for common assault.
Three of the county’s MPs – Dr Poulter, Dr Coffey and Mr Hancock – will be fairly confident about being re-elected next May as their seats are very safe.
Mr Aldous’ Waveney seat is very marginal – and offers the one possibility of experience returning to the House of Commons.
Next year’s Labour candidate is Bob Blizzard, who was MP between 1997 and 2010 and was narrowly beaten by Mr Aldous in the last general election.
If he manages to overturn the 769 Conservative majority in the seat, he would straight away become the most experienced MP from Suffolk.
Mr Gummer’s Ipswich seat is also highly-marginal – but his Labour opponent is borough council leader David Ellesmere who has no previous Westminster experience.
There is no shortage of experience of Suffolk parliamentary seats elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster.
The three Conservative MPs who stood down in Suffolk at the last general election have all moved on to the “Other Place” – the House of Lords.
John Gummer, Sir Michael Lord and Richard Spring became Lord Deben, Lord Framlingham, and Lord Risby respectively and have become working peers.
The changes in personnel are not the only shift we have seen in Suffolk – the nature of MPs has altered significantly.
The new breed of parliamentarians are all very accessible and have a high-profile in their constituencies – even those who have already started to climb the ministerial pole.
We receive copies of their diaries of public engagements. We have all their mobile phone numbers – and they respond to our texts or e-mails very promptly.
Gone are the days when a senior MP would call a local reporter into his constituency office once a fortnight for a “press call” which was basically a 45-minute lecture about what the honourable member thought of life, the universe and everything that had happened at Westminster recently.
Politics is changing in Suffolk – and it will change even more next May.