Parties play down national issues

THIS year is very important for local councillors across Suffolk – not just in Ipswich and Waveney.All the district council seats are up for re-election – but don't expect too many major changes.

THIS year is very important for local councillors across Suffolk – not just in Ipswich and Waveney.

All the district council seats are up for re-election – but don't expect too many major changes.

In fact, this year's elections could be among the least eye-catching on record – with a puny turnout to match.

Many candidates will be fighting under party banners – but don't expect them to make much of their political allegiances, they'll want to fight on strictly local issues.


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Tories I have spoken to recently seem strangely reluctant to sing the praises of their party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

They realise that he isn't the kind of person to inspire the non-committed voters.

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"There's no point in voting Tory this time, the party's a shambles. I reckon Kennedy's lot (Liberal Democrats) should get a chance," one non-committed voter told me.

The Tories did well in Suffolk Coastal four years ago, regaining power in a council chamber they lost in 1995.

Since their return, they've made a competent fist of running things and will no doubt be relying on their record in the district – expect them to fight under the Ray Herring, not Iain Duncan Smith banner.

The party may have more difficulty in persuading voters in Mid Suffolk to give them a chance – the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration there has a reasonable record over the last eight years.

Labour is unlikely to be crowing too much over its leadership either – with opinion polls showing most people in Britain don't back the government's stance on Iraq, local candidates won't want to suggest that a vote for them is a vote for Mr Blair this time around.

The only local politicians who will be parading their national credentials will be the Liberal Democrats, their leader Charles Kennedy is seen as an asset rather than a liability at present – and he's caught the national mood with his criticisms of the government's Iraq policy.

But it's a little ironic that the LibDems, who have always made a virtue of being local people fighting for local issues, will be the only ones using their national leader in the elections!

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