Suffolk MP helping Tories win town votes

A SUFFOLK MP today revealed how the Conservative party and David Cameron are trying to win back votes from the towns and cities.

A SUFFOLK MP today revealed how the Conservative party and David Cameron are trying to win back votes from the towns and cities.

When Cameron became Tory leader in September 2005, he asked several of his party's elder statesmen to look at ways of making the party more popular by the next general election.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, a former agriculture and then environment secretary, was given a key task - how to bring in new voters from towns and cities while not alienating supporters in the countryside.

He was asked to head a review into quality of life issues covering environmental matters from recycling to marine conservation.

Mr Gummer today told The Evening Star: “We have just completed the review into rural life and we are now looking at issues like fisheries and the offshore environment.

“The review into our urban policies should be completed by the end of June and I shall be presenting our findings to the shadow cabinet later this year.”

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In the wake of the election defeats of 1997 and 2001, the Conservatives retreated into their rural heartlands, but they are now hoping to make more of an impact in towns and cities.

Mr Gummer accepted there were major differences faced by rural and urban communities.

He said: “I was in Ipswich at the weekend taking part in the campaign for the local elections and the issues certainly are different to those in the countryside.”

Those living in towns may enjoy more services than those in the countryside, but there is often more obvious deprivation in towns than in rural areas.

In Suffolk all the most deprived wards are in Ipswich or Lowestoft.

Mr Gummer said: “We have to remember that 90per cent of people in this country live in cities or towns. It is vital that the Conservative Party has policies that are relevant to them and we are certainly working on that.

“I am fortunate to represent a constituency that contains a cross-section of communities - there are the urban areas near Ipswich and of course Felixstowe which is growing rapidly as well as the smaller towns and villages.”

N Are the Conservatives succeeding in winning back town voters? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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