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Why coming second matters in some Suffolk seats in 2019 General Election

PUBLISHED: 15:15 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 05 December 2019

Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrat candidate Jules Ewart. Picture: SUFFOLK COASTAL LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrat candidate Jules Ewart. Picture: SUFFOLK COASTAL LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

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As the 2019 General Election moves into its last few days, all the attention in Suffolk and north Essex is focussed on the area’s only marginal seat – Ipswich.

Helen Geake (centre) with Green Party co-leader Sian Berry (Left) and former leader Natalie Bennett (Right) during a rally in Bury St Edmunds. Picture; BURY ST EDMUNDS GREEN PARTYHelen Geake (centre) with Green Party co-leader Sian Berry (Left) and former leader Natalie Bennett (Right) during a rally in Bury St Edmunds. Picture; BURY ST EDMUNDS GREEN PARTY

But while the Conservatives look set to hang on to all the other seats in the two counties, there are contests going on between other parties to establish themselves as main challengers in future elections.

In 2017 Labour came second in every other seat in the area, and the party is hoping to retain that position - although most of its effort has been concentrated on sending help into Ipswich to try to ensure that Sandy Martin retains a red spot on the region's electoral map amid a sea of blue.

However while the two largest parties have turned their attention to Ipswich, both the Liberal Democrats and Greens are hoping to make an impact in some of the rural seats.

The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning hard in Suffolk Coastal with candidate Jules Ewart being supported by former Bath MP Lord Don Foster who now lives in the constituency.

The party now sees Suffolk Coastal as a potential target seat - and while it has not been pushing major national resources into it, there has been a very energetic campaign by Mrs Ewart and her supporters.

They still insist they can come from third place in 2017 with 4,048 votes to defeat Dr Therese Coffey who had 33,713 votes - but most people feel that is unrealistic.

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It is possible that the party could overhaul Labour, who had 17,701 votes last time, to come second - as they did in 2010 - and that could provide them with a springboard for future elections.

There is a similar situation in Bury St Edmunds with the Green Party. That has been visited by national figures in an attempt to boost the campaign by Helen Geake, and it has the benefit of an electoral pact which has seen the Liberal Democrats stand down in the constituency.

In 2017 The Greens actually finished behind the Liberal Democrats in the constituency - and both were a long way behind the second-placed Labour Party.

Both the Greens and Labour are now claiming they are in second place in the constituency - we will know who is right this time next week!

The importance of these contests for second place is that the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk Coastal and Greens in Bury St Edmunds have long-term ambitions to challenge to win the seats in future elections.

In Colchester there is also a battle going on - but in that case both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have aspirations of overturning Will Quince's 5,677 majority.

In effect, however, they are both so keen to try to establish themselves as the best party for tactical voters to flock to that they are unlikely to be able to make any real dent in Mr Quince's majority.


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