Three cornered fight for Ipswich in 2010

WHEN the next general election comes around, what will the battle be like for the most marginal seat in Suffolk?Ipswich has always produced some tight, and interesting, battles - and already the parties are preparing for the next big fight.

WHEN the next general election comes around, what will the battle be like for the most marginal seat in Suffolk?

Ipswich has always produced some tight, and interesting, battles - and already the parties are preparing for the next big fight.

Chris Mole will be fighting it again for Labour - but he could face a very interesting two-pronged attack next time around.

The Liberal Democrats have always seen Ipswich as a bit of an afterthought - it's always been a seat they don't expect to win so they haven't put much effort into it. They have tended to pick a candidate at the last minute just to go through the motions. Not next time, I suspect. I understand Andrew Cann, son of Jamie and already the deputy leader of the LibDems on Suffolk County Council, is applying to become a parliamentary candidate.

If he succeeds he will put his name forward for the Ipswich seat - and will be keen to start campaigning immediately to get his name and face known around the town.

I also understand that the Conservatives are keen to get a candidate in place sooner rather than later for exactly the same reason.

Most Read

Paul West has fought a couple of good campaigns, but it is probably time for someone else to have a tilt at the seat - and that could be new councillor Steven Wells, seen as a rising star of the local party.

So how would a battle between Mole, Wells and Cann shape up?

The Conservatives have said for years that once the Waterfront takes off, with thousands of affluent people moving into expensive flats, they will find it easier to win the seat.

They might be disappointed there - the evidence of the first wave of Waterfront dwellers is that they tend to be tenants, rather than homeowners, and have fairly short leases. That means they don't get themselves on to the electoral role and couldn't care less who is MP for Ipswich.

However the Tories will be able to say, with some justification, that the town has always been a two-horse race between themselves and Labour and if people are fed up with the government the only way to get rid of them is to vote Blue.

Assuming he stands, though, the other two parties would be well advised not to dismiss the challenge from Mr Cann.

He is a very shrewd political operator. He knows his way around local politics and while he has his fair share of enemies in the Labour Party there are many voters who will vote for him because of his name.

He has inherited his father's flair for judging what the Ipswich voters want - and that is not a skill that can be easily dismissed.

It might be too much for him to expect to lift his party from third to first place in one election, but if he followed the example of other LibDems and came back to fight the seat time after time, he could eventually find the way to Westminster.

In any analysis of the Ipswich political scene, no one should forget that the Ipswich Labour Party is a formidable organisation.

You can never write Labour off in the town, its supporters may whinge about the government over a pint but they will get out there on the doorsteps during a general election campaign.

AS all the political attention is focussed on the Labour Party and its leadership shenanigans this week, people are already starting to speculate on when the next general election will be held.

One poll at the weekend suggested Gordon Brown should call an election soon after he becomes Prime Minister.

Well, I have news for the pollsters and everyone else - that's not going to happen!

In fact if I was a betting man I'd put my money this time around on the election coming later rather than sooner - I don't think the next general election will coincide with the county council elections in 2009.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Mr Brown, and I'm still sure he will succeed Tony Blair, hang on until the early part of 2010.

The only reason you call a general election a year before you have to is because you are sure, absolutely positive you will win.

That is why Tony Blair went to the country in 2001 and 2005. That is why Margaret Thatcher called general elections in 1983 and 1987.

If you aren't positive you will win before the campaign starts, you don't go for an early election - you hold on as long as possible in the hope that something will turn up.

It did for John Major in 1992 (after a five-year gap) but he could do nothing to prevent annihilation in 1997 (after another five years).

Of course Gordon Brown could come in on a wave of euphoria, the economy could pick up, peace could break out in Iraq and he could build a wonderful relationship with new US president Hilary Clinton or John Edwards - that might persuade him to go in 2009.

But given that he will no longer be facing a Conservative Party intent on fighting itself and that the Liberal Democrats will have established a foothold in many Labour cities, I can't see him going to the polls too early!

OVER the last few days there have been many suggestions about where the PCT should move to.

One idea is that they should take space in the Civic Centre building in the heart of Ipswich - sadly that is one option not open to them.

Civic Centre was abandoned by the borough council because the building is actually in a very poor state.

It might look all right to the untrained eye, but it would need £13 million to be spent on it to bring it back into use.

It's also far too large for a comparatively small organisation like the PCT (in terms of employees).

However there are, of course, plenty of other less prominent office buildings available in the area - all with good public transport links.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter