New MPs make their mark

THIS year has been one of the most extraordinary ever in the post-war history of British politics.

Both in Suffolk and nationally the political landscape was turned on its head – but I’ve been left wondering whether this is a long-term sea change or just a temporary blip.

Here in Suffolk we’ve ended up with five new MPs – three of them serving constituencies in the south east of the county.

Ben Gummer won the Ipswich seat from Labour’s sitting MP Chris Mole and now has the largest majority any Conservative MP has had in the town since the war.

He’s made an impressive start to his political career fighting battles that are showing signs of success on issues like Ipswich Hospital’s heart care, the new transport scheme for the town, and a new school for Holywells.

Yet he knows that he is still enjoying something of a “honeymoon” period – and that tougher times are ahead for him. He will still do very well to hold on to the seat at the next general election.

I must just include a word about the town’s former MP. I’ve known Chris for about 20 years and it is difficult to imagine anyone could work harder for his constituents than he did.

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He may not have always said the “right thing” politically so far as his constituents were concerned but he always said and did what he felt was right – even having a go at Tony Blair when necessary – and he and his team got through a phenomenal caseload.

Suffolk has done well with its new MPs. New North Ipswich and Central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has been a real breath of fresh air, immersing himself in every area of his constituency from Whitton and Whitehouse to the pretty villages on the Norfolk border.

He’s shown himself to be very much his own man, tackling local authorities and the NHS when he feels necessary and showing that a Conservative advocate of the “Big Society” does not just have to advocate cutting everything.

From a professional point of view, we’ve had more political stories from an MP in that constituency in the last 27 weeks than we had had in previous 27 years!

Therese Coffey possibly had the hardest act to follow, taking over as Suffolk Coastal MP from John Gummer who had become known by everyone from Felixstowe to Southwold during his 31 years in the House of Commons.

But Dr Coffey is rapidly becoming well-known in her own right in the constituency and has been playing a leading role alongside The Evening Star in opposing county council proposals to downgrade Felixstowe Fire Station.

Over the next few years life is bound to get tougher for our new MPs – but all have made a good start to their new careers.