Labour in Ipswich puts on a brave face despite by-election setback
PUBLISHED: 14:31 25 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:31 25 February 2017
At the end of a bad week for the Labour Party nationally, local members in Ipswich were determined to keep up their spirits with a day of campaigning on the streets of the town.
The loss of the Copeland seat in last Thursday’s by-election was seen by many as a shattering reverse – it was the first time that the ruling party had taken a seat off the opposition at a by-election since 1982.
It prompted former Ipswich MP Chris Mole to warn that his party needed to look again at the direction in which it was heading.
He said: “I think the party’s leadership needs to look very hard at how it deals with the concerns of the voters who have supported it for many years.”
But local party members were determined to carry on fighting for the county council elections in May and taking their message out to the doorsteps of the Westgate Ward on Saturday morning.
Local councillor Carole Jones said: “The result was disappointing, but we have a job to do here and we are campaigning very much on local issues.
“Ipswich council is run by a Labour administration and I think people know it is doing a very good job.
“We are now campaigning for the county council elections and we are hoping to make gains in Ipswich and consolidate what we already hold so we’re going out, talking to people and encouraging them to vote for us.”
The vast majority of issues that came up on the doorsteps were locally-based that can be handled by councillors.
Ms Jones added: “We do sometimes get Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership raised but that is nowhere near as much of an issue as cuts to services provided by the county council.”
The Labour Party has teams out knocking on doors most Saturday mornings, made up of local councillors and other activists.
Saturday’s campaigning came at the end of a week that saw the party see off a challenge from UKIP to hold the Stoke on Trent Central seat where the new Labour MP is Gareth Snell who was brought up in Stowmarket.
But the party lost to the Conservatives in Copeland – an area which has returned Labour MPs at every election since the mid 1930s.
That loss prompted former Foreign Secretary David Miliband to warn that the party was “further from power” than at any time in the last 50 years.