Chris Mole still has much to offer

CHRIS Mole’s decision not to seek the nomination as Labour candidate for Ipswich at the next general election allows me to write the political obituary for his parliamentary career that I was unable to a year ago.

I’ve known every Ipswich MP for the last 30 years, and I have to say that Chris was the most under-rated of them all.

He was never an MP to immediately leap on to a subject and start making a lot of noise about it – he always tended to wait until he had all the facts before coming to a conclusion.

But to label him, as some did, as a government stooge is totally wrong.

He was probably the most rebellious MP we’ve seen in Ipswich – the difference is that when he rebelled the government took notice!

He first became a parliamentary private secretary, the first step on the ministerial ladder, under Tony Blair.

But when he became convinced it was time for Mr Blair to stand aside he joined other junior ministerial aides in saying – forcing him to stand down from his role as a PPS.

Most Read

That was a courageous decision and could have spelt the end of his ministerial career. Ultimately, of course, Mr Blair did stand down and Mr Mole’s loyalty to Gordon Brown was rewarded with a ministerial position.

Once you’re a minister you have to decide whether you want to remain a minister or return to being a “free-spirit” on the back benches.

If you’re a minister you have to toe the line publicly – even if you make your constituents’ case privately to your ministerial colleagues.

Some in Ipswich might like the idea of a backbench MP prepared to shout of his (or her) voice about anything, but there is something to be said for having an MP that has an inside track in the government as well!

And Chris’ workrate for constituents was first class – the amount of work he did for them was phenomenal, even on cases that would not always have been popular among voters.

During his nine years in parliament he dealt with 15,000 case files – and I know of several people who had problems that were highlighted by the Star who only got things sorted out once Mr Mole had intervened.

He is now looking at other ways of serving the people of the county he has lived in most of his adult life, either in Europe or closer to his Ipswich home.

Personally I hope Chris does find a new role in Suffolk’s public life – he still has much to offer the people of Suffolk.