Ipswich: Labour set to start candidate search

IPSWICH: Labour could have a new challenger ready to take on Ben Gummer in place by the end of this year.

The seat has been identified by the party’s national executive as one of the first marginals in the country to select a candidate after it was lost to the Tories in last year’s general election.

That means the process of selecting a new candidate is likely to start in the summer and a new candidate should be in place by the end of the year.

The Labour Party will advertised nationally that it is seeking a candidate, but it will be local activists who draw up a shortlist of candidates.

Those shortlisted will then attend a selection meeting where all party members will be able to vote in secret ballot for their prefered candidate who will then fight the seat.

Ipswich is seen as a key marginal that Labour has to secure if it is to win back power nationally at the next general election.

Mr Gummer won the seat with a majority of 2,079 over former Labour minister Chris Mole at May’s general election.

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That is the largest majority the Conservatives have had in Ipswich since the war – but the seat is still considered highly marginal.

The MP declined to comment on the oppositions plans.

Labour will also be holding early candidate selection in Waveney and Norwich South as it prepares for the next election.

Agent John Cook said: “The party nationally is trying to get candidates in place in key seats so they can make themselves known to constituents well before the next election.

“Ipswich will be an open contest – so there will not be an all-woman shortlist – and we will be starting the selection procedure after this year’s local government elections.”

n What do you think of Labour’s tactics? E-mail eveningstarletters@evening star.co.uk or alternatively you can write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.