Darling's comments demand respect

DURING my career following politics in Suffolk, I've met more national politicians than I care to remember.Some have been a complete pain to deal with - arrogant, irritated to be here, and frankly as interested in talking to The Evening Star as they are in the latest book by Jordan!Others really seem to enjoy meeting ordinary people and even the local press for the area.

DURING my career following politics in Suffolk, I've met more national politicians than I care to remember.

Some have been a complete pain to deal with - arrogant, irritated to be here, and frankly as interested in talking to The Evening Star as they are in the latest book by Jordan!

Others really seem to enjoy meeting ordinary people and even the local press for the area.

It is a political thing - politicians with a naturally easy manner include David Cameron, Charles Kennedy . . . and Alistair Darling.

And what's more, on the three occasions I've met the chancellor (all before he moved in to Number 11) I've always found him to genuine and sincere - so when he issued his warning about the British economy last week, I took his words very seriously.

Mr Darling isn't someone oozing charm and charisma, but I have no doubt he knows his stuff - and he's prepared to tell it as it is.

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So when he says that the economic conditions are potentially the worst they have been for 60 years then I take notice - frankly I'd rather believe him than the bland attempts to pour oil on troubled waters being employed by his cabinet colleagues.

And unlike most people I don't actually blame the current government for the economic mess this country is in.

It is not a “British disease” as the slump was in the 1970s when a succession of strikes and runaway inflation hit this country's economy while our competitors such as Germany, Japan and the USA streaked away.

This time the whole world is gripped by the effect of economic slowdown - except the growing economies of India and China.

Established economies all over the world are facing serious difficulties, and to blame the current government is very wide of the mark - although of course that is precisely what opposition parties are supposed to do!

Some might say that the current cabinet looks a bit like the Warmington-on-Sea branch of the Home Guard with Jack Straw running around saying “Don't Panic” and the chancellor telling us: “We're all Doomed.”

But the fact is that in telling it as it is, Mr Darling is doing his party and the country as a whole a big favour.

It doesn't help anyone if all the government's top people are telling us that everything is fine really and they'll get all the support back at the next election when clearly they are in big trouble.

By being honest with the voters, Mr Darling has impressed me once again. Like a good doctor, he doesn't always tell us what we want to hear - but he tells us what we need to hear.

I'M very disappointed to see all the ostriches who seem determined to put their heads in the sand and fight against proposals to create an Orwell, or North Haven council.

This is the only option on the table that would give south east Suffolk the right to run its own affairs - the idea of an east/west/Ipswich option for the county has been dismissed by the Boundary Committee.

The only alternative for the old-school Labour hacks within the current Ipswich borough boundary is the One Suffolk option which would see our affairs run by people from Newmarket, Haverhill, and Beccles!

Frankly it's about time people living in Kesgrave, Pinewood, Rushmere and Warren Heath realise they are in the same community as Ipswich - and Felixstowe has far more in common with Ipswich than it does with West Suffolk.

David Ellesmere made the point this week that urban Ipswich is very different to rural communities like Shotley, Kirton and Waldringfield - but the fact is that these days they are really commuter villages rather than traditional self-contained communities.

And most of their commuters are heading to Ipswich, which makes it natural for them to be included in the authority.

The county has shown time and again that it isn't interested in Ipswich affairs and in urban matters in general - it's time for the urban quarter of south east Suffolk to run its own affairs.

And if anyone else claims this will see the end of Ipswich and Felixstowe I'll scream. Has West Bromwich ceased to exist because it is now in the borough of Sandwell? Have Huddersfield and Halifax lost their identities because they are now in Kirklees and Calderdale?

Ipswich's chance to be a stand-alone unitary was lost at the end of last year when the government decided its old boundaries were not big enough.

The town's Labour Party really should wake up to that reality and take up the challenge of campaigning in a larger area rather than kicking against the best possible option that's on offer to them.

If they fight too hard against the Orwell - or North Haven - option then they could find themselves part of a One-Suffolk which really would see the town sidelined.

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