Mole and Gummer clash over job

A PROMOTION for Ipswich MP Chris Mole will make him less likely to stand up for the town, a political rival warned today.

A PROMOTION for Ipswich MP Chris Mole will make him less likely to stand up for the town, a political rival warned today.

Ben Gummer, Conservative candidate for the town at the next general election, spoke out after Mr Mole was made a party whip as part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's shake-up of his team.

Mr Gummer said the change of job will make it less likely his political opponent will stand up for his constituents if doing so goes against the official party line.

He said: “I am pleased for him that he has got this promotion to the government, it does perhaps explain why he has been reluctant to criticise the government over the last couple of years especially over Ipswich Hospital.

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“It could be that now in government he uses his influence a little more effectively than he has done recently.

“Ipswich has got a very strong tradition of forthright MPs such as Jamie Cann, Ken Weetch, Dingle Foot and Michael Irvine who were famous for shouting out for the town.

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“I have to say I don't think Chris has established a similar reputation.

“I am not quite sure being a whip in government will help him do that.

“It is very unlikely he will be able to criticise the government.”

Mr Mole hit back, saying Mr Gummer's comments showed a “remarkable lack of awareness”.

“Many effective MPs have been government ministers at all levels and continued to represent their constituency effectively as Ben's father did for Suffolk Coastal when he was Secretary of State for Environment.

“The likelihood of there being a vote in parliament on a matter of business which brought me into conflict with the interests of constituents is highly unlikely and I can continue to make representations to fellow ministers about matters of concern to individual constituents and groups of constituents as I have always done.”

Prior to his recent change of job, Chris Mole had been parliamentary private secretary to John Healey, minister for local government.

Mr Mole's new job will see him play a key role in votes - ensuring members turn up when required and persuading them to vote in accordance with the official party line.

He will also have the additional responsibility of assisting Barbara Follett, minister for culture, creative industries and tourism.

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