No regrets from Sandy Martin as he looks at life away from Westminster
PUBLISHED: 07:30 23 December 2019
Former Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has now cleared his office in the Palace of Westminster and is back full-time in his home town as he contemplates life outside the House of Commons.
He has no regrets about the hard-hitting speech he made at the count after being voted out of parliament in the 2019 General Election - and has no intention of leaving politics although he does not expect to stand for elected office again.
Mr Martin was relaxed and seemed at ease as we chatted over a light lunch near his office in Ipswich.
He said: "I don't regret what I said at all. I think there is a real danger to democracy from the national print media and from the way social media is used to convey false information and twist the truth."
His concern was about local campaigning as well as national news which, he felt, had misrepresented the national Labour campaign across the country.
"The Labour Party commitment to a second referendum after further negotiations was perfectly sensible, but it was portrayed as something very different."
Locally the Conservatives had put out what he felt was a totally misleading view quote from a radio interview by selectively cutting it.
He said he had about four hours to write down the points he wanted to make in his speech which was greeted by slow hand-claps from victorious Conservative campaigners.
Mr Martin returned to London with other defeated MPs at the start of last week to clear their offices to make sure they were empty for new members once the new parliament had assembled.
While his days as an elected politician - he was a county and borough councillor for many years before he became MP for Ipswich in 2017 - are over, he still plans to play an active role in the Labour Party.
He said: "I want to work on the Labour Party's environmental policy. It is by far the most important issue facing us - as I said during the campaign and I want to be able to work on that in the future."
He will also be looking for paid employment to meet the bills!
Some MPs have looked at council work after losing their seats in Parliament, but Mr Martin doesn't expect to go back to Endeavour House or Grafton House.
He said: "I think I've done that - I will be looking for new challenges."
As a member of the Labour Party, he will be voting in the leadership election which will choose a successor to Jeremy Corbyn early in the New Year.
He said: "As I understand it the three leading candidates are Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and Beccy Lloyd-Bailey. I'd actually like to see Emily Thornberry win because I think she's a very good candidate that people warm to.
"Of the three others, I'd like to see Angie come through because she's better with people but I do understand that she might not stand against Beccy. I do worry that Keir and Beccy don't come across as being particularly sympathetic characters."
He enjoyed his two and a half years in the House of Commons, but had been frustrated by the lack of action on just about every issue apart from Brexit itself.
He said: "It is quite extraordinary the small amount of parliamentary time that was given over to other issues - even quite uncontentious bills like the animal protection act which could have been passed in half an hour just before the last Parliament ended."
Now he is looking to life away from Parliament - but that will give him the opportunity to spend much more time in his home town.
"I always said that whatever happened in the election I would be living in Ipswich afterwards, so people will still be likely to see me around the town."
And he is looking forward to taking up some hobbies he has had to put on the back-burner over recent years. He said: "I may rejoin a choral society if they think I can still sing well enough. And I might even consider going back to Am-Dram and joining the Gallery Players. It is 20 years since I've done that. It was always good fun."
Losing a parliamentary seat is a very public way of losing your job - although Mr Martin knew he had a tough contest throughout the campaign and it was clear once counting had started that he was unlikely to win.
But he remains a popular figure in the town - as we chatted over lunch people came up to offer him their sympathy and wish him well for the future.