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Council chief bids for Westminster place

PUBLISHED: 13:27 02 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK County Council leader Chris Mole was today preparing for the three-week by-election campaign which he hopes will take him to Westminster as the new MP for Ipswich.

SUFFOLK County Council leader Chris Mole was today preparing for the three-week by-election campaign which he hopes will take him to Westminster as the new MP for Ipswich.

Mr Mole, 43, beat off a challenge from two other candidates to win the nomination of the Ipswich Labour Party last night and defend the 8,081 majority won by Jamie Cann in June.

Today he was in an upbeat mood – but acknowledged that the battle for the seat had only just begun.

"There's a lot of work ahead but the members of the Ipswich Labour Party are looking forward to the battle," he said.

"It was a very good meeting. I am sure that the people did want to get behind a candidate who would fight for local issues."

Mr Mole felt that the main issues during the campaign would be similar to those at the general election with an emphasis on improving public services.

"There is a desire to see our schools and hospitals improve and we have to continue to persuade people that the Labour Party is best able to deliver those improvements," he said.

The other two candidates, Brussels-based spin doctor Jan Royall and former candidate for Billericay Amanda Campbell, did not have the local background of Mr Mole.

Ipswich is a seat whose MPs have always had strong local roots – and there was concern that "outsiders" would not be able to attract the same level of support as a local candidate.

Mr Cann's widow, Rosie, was at the meeting last night and welcomed the nomination.

"I am very pleased that a local person will be taking over Jamie's legacy," she said.

Mr Mole was aware he had a tough act to follow – but said that their similar backgrounds as local authority leaders would stand him in good stead.

"I worked closely with Jamie and have great admiration for everything he achieved in Ipswich. I hope I am given the opportunity to continue his work," he said.

All the major parties are sending in top officials to help run the campaign in Ipswich – but Mr Mole was quick to deny he had already been given a spin-doctor's makeover.

His trademark beard was noticeable by its absence – had it suffered the same fate as the facial hair that adorned cabinet ministers Geoff Hoon and Stephen Byers before they climbed the greasy pole?

"No, it's still here," he said today.

"I just had a bit of a trim yesterday before the meeting – I certainly haven't lost my beard!"

Mr Mole is the fifth candidate to be nominated for the by election.

Already declared are:

n legal executive Tessa Munt for the Liberal Democrats

n unemployed builder Peter Leech for the Socialist Alliance

n Charity worker and former teacher Dave Cooper for the Christian People's Alliance

n Mature Student John Ramierez for the Legalise Cannabis Campaign

The Conservatives are due to choose their candidate to fight the by-election at a meeting tomorrow morning.

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