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Mole digs in for easy victory

PUBLISHED: 09:49 23 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

IPSWICH'S new MP was today savouring his victory in the town's by-election - and looking forward to taking his seat in the House of Commons.

As Labour's Chris Mole was looking forward to a dramatic change in his life, election organisers were delighted by the turnout of more than 40 per cent.

IPSWICH'S new MP was today savouring his victory in the town's by-election – and looking forward to taking his seat in the House of Commons.

As Labour's Chris Mole was looking forward to a dramatic change in his life, election organisers were delighted by the turnout of more than 40 per cent.

That's one of the highest by-election turnouts of recent years – and means that more people voted in the by-election than went to Portman Road for last night's victory over Inter Milan.

After just a few hours sleep, Mr Mole and his wife Shona took their sons Ted and Tom to Handford Hall school today before he started to prepare for his new job.

He expects to take his seat in the House of Commons on Tuesday and to get his first bundle of papers from the Labour Whips' office within the next few days.

"I haven't even got my pager yet," he joked today. "But I know there's a lot of work to do and I'm expecting things to start happening very soon."

Mr Mole won with a majority of just over 4,000 – only half Jamie Cann's majority in June, but very respectable on a low turnout.

The Conservatives held on to second place – but the Liberal Democrats performed very strongly and came within 1,700 votes of pushing them into third.

As is traditional with by-elections, all the parties were claiming victory!

Mr Mole, the undisputed real victor, said the result showed that people wanted Labour to continue with its work of governing the country – and that Ipswich had rejected Iain Duncan Smith and the Conservatives.

His words could hardly be heard in the hall as he was drowned out by a noisy anti-war protester believed to be a supporter of the Socialist Alliance.

Today the 43-year-old, who is leader of Suffolk County Council until a successor is chosen, said the heckling he received in the Corn Exchange was good practice for the chamber of the House of Commons.

Conservative candidate Paul West said the battle was always going to be a struggle for his party.

"It was only a few months ago that Labour held the seat with a majority of more than 8,000, so it was always going to be tough.

"But we came under heavy fire from the Liberals, and held on to our second place. We have something to build on here," he said.

Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt was ecstatic about the result.

"We have come up from a very low base and have pushed the Conservatives for second place," she said.

"Although the turnout was down from June, we have increased our vote and given ourselves real momentum to push forward in Ipswich."

Everyone was delighted about the turnout, before the votes were counted the most optimistic had predicted a turnout of about 30 per cent, with some people fearing it could be as low as 20 per cent.

"The turnout was very good – it shows Ipswich people take their civic duty very seriously, even when there's a vital football match on," said Ipswich Council chief executive James Hehir.

A season ticket holder at Portman Road himself, he had to miss the game as the count was being set up.

"But that's made me all the more determined to go to the San Siro to see us continue the job!" he said.

Chris Mole (Lab) 11,881

Paul West (C) 7,794

Tessa Munt (LD) 6,146

David Cooper (CPA) 581

Jonathan Wright (UK Ind) 276

Tony Slade (Green) 255

John Ramirez (LCA) 236

Peter Leech (Soc All) 152

Nicholas Winskill (Eng Ind) 84

Lab maj 4,087 (14.91%) 2.94% swing Lab to C

Electorate 68,244; Turnout 27,405 (40.16%)

June 2001 Lab maj 8,081

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