Politicians go quiet

A YEAR after the last general election life is very exciting politically on the national - and international - stage.There are big questions about the survival of Tony Blair at Number Ten.

A YEAR after the last general election life is very exciting politically on the national - and international - stage.

There are big questions about the survival of Tony Blair at Number Ten. The war in Iraq and the tensions with Iran are worrying many people. And I'm detecting an interest in politics in general that we haven't seen since the mid-1990s.

But you could be forgiven for thinking that this is passing the grassroots politicians by. In Suffolk the political parties seem to be in total hibernation.

Frankly I'm staggered by the lack of action on the ground from political parties that logic says should be doing their groundwork if they're to achieve future political success.

The Liberal Democrats have totally failed to make any impact in parliamentary terms in Suffolk. In 1997 and 2001 they came third in every seat. In 2005 there were signs of the corpse twitching when they regained second place in South Suffolk.

Okay, it's a pretty remote second with Tim Yeo sitting on a healthy-enough majority of more than 6,500.

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But given that Labour is in third place with nearly 12,000 votes to be squeezed I'm surprised that the LibDems haven't immediately started on their campaign to capture the seat in 2009 or 2010.

Kathy Pollard has fought the seat three times now. She's well known in the area. Is the party going to give her another crack at it or are they going to look for another candidate?

Whatever decision it makes, it would make sense to get the candidate agreed now so they've got long enough to make a real impression on the seat, not just a year to 18 months before Gordon Brown decides to call an election.

Before he won North Norfolk for the Lib Dems, Norman Lamb tried twice and each time started his campaign again the week after the previous general election.

He now has a majority of more than 10,000. Surely there's a lesson there for the Liberal Democrats in South Suffolk.

There's a similar situation with the Tories in Ipswich.

The party is on the up in the town, leading the borough council and increasing its vote in the last local election.

Having cut Chris Mole's majority to less than 5,500 votes, shouldn't it too be thinking in terms of getting a candidate in place sooner or later to act as a parliamentary figurehead - someone that members can focus their efforts around?

It does seem extraordinary that parties seem to be happy to create a political vacuum after every election which can last for years - and then look surprised if the public has lost interest by the time they come calling for votes again.

NORMAL politics at Civic Centre in Ipswich should be resumed from today after the hiatus of the last few months.

Since the defections of Dale Jackson and Stephen Barker earlier this year, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration had not had a majority and all its decisions had to be ratified at full council meetings.

There was the constant danger that Messrs Jackson and Barker would link up with Labour to frustrate their former colleagues - a danger provoked by personality clashes rather than any deep-seated political concerns.

Now that has all changed - the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration has a comfortable majority of eight over Labour and the two independents.

Which means it can now propose policies and push them through without having to second guess what the opposition and its disaffected former leaders might think.

A major blockage in the council's decision-making process has now been cleared and hopefully now it will be much easier to agree fresh ideas than it has been over the last few weeks.

AS BUILDING work on the new council headquarters in Russell Road continues, I can't help feeling that the borough council will be left looking like the poor relation when it comes to the town's “administrative quarter.”

Am I the only person who thinks that as they are nearing completion, the new Grafton House offices for the borough are frankly extremely boring and uninspired.

Sandwiched between the county's Endeavour House headquarters and the Crown Court, both of which are interesting modern buildings, Grafton House looks functional, uninspiring, and frankly cheap.

While council tax payers will no doubt be grateful that as little as possible was spent on the offices - and there is of course the splendid town hall in the heart of Ipswich - it does seem a shame that the council's main offices will be so anonymous.