Clearly last week’s local election results were challenging for the Conservative Party at a national level, writes Tom Hunt, Conservative MP for Ipswich.
In Suffolk, we’ve seen the first ever Green majority council in mid Suffolk and other disappointing results across the county.
In Ipswich, we lost one incredibly hard working and respected councillor in Liz Harsant. Liz was a fantastic servant to the residents of Holywells ward for over 20 years and clearly losing her at the Borough Council was a blow.
I was pleased that we were able to get Nathan Wilson elected in Stoke Park Ward. We lost this ward last May and at the start of the campaign to be honest, bearing in mind the challenging national context, I didn’t think we would be able to win.
It’s important to point out that Stoke Park is a ward Labour has been able to win four times over the past decade, so can hardly be highlighted as a “safe” Conservative ward.
One key thing to point out in relation to the number of votes that were cast across as the Borough, is that there was a swing towards the Conservative Party from the Labour Party compared to 2019, and an even greater swing compared to last May.
In fact, in terms of the number of votes across the Borough and our performance relative to Labour, apart from May 2021 where we benefitted vote wise from the vaccine rollout success, this is the best mid-term local election result we’ve had since 2010.
In some respects, this is quite remarkable, bearing in mind that national polls currently have us 15 points behind the Labour Party.
Whereas four years ago we were 3.5 behind on average and last year about 7 points behind.
All in all, last week was a very credible set of results for us in Ipswich. Which when understood in their proper context, is a sign that the strength of the underlying Conservative vote is perhaps greater than many expected.
In the Town centre Alexandra ward, we achieved the best result I have ever seen. The Labour majority over fell from 671 to 281 with our candidate Dr Sachin Karale racking up almost 800 votes!
In Sprites ward, a ward where Labour used to weigh the vote, compared to four years ago, the Labour majority was halved.
You see these may be inconvenient facts for Labour supporters and those who routinely underestimate the Conservative Party in Ipswich, but if I were in Ipswich Labour I would be at the very least underwhelmed by last week’s results.
Bearing in mind the developments over the last year, and the current climate they should have done much better.
Trying to extrapolate local election results to General Elections is very challenging. When you’re assessing how people vote in a local election, with how they intend to vote in a general election result you’re not comparing apples with apples.
How people vote is often different, turnout is about half and history is clear, you expect incumbent Government’s to not do brilliantly in mid-term local elections.
It is very likely that when it comes to the next General Election, circumstances nationally will be very different.
I hope and believe a lot of the pressure around cost of living will have eased, and the Prime Minister will have made progress on tackling the small boats, alongside his five other priorities.
We have already seen that in six months he’s made progress over Labour in the polls, there is every reason to believe that will continue over the next 16 or so
Article published in the Star -