Labour has never managed to win more than two Suffolk seats in any general election - but now party officials believe another two could be in play next year.

Ipswich has been a marginal seat for decades, and has switched between Labour and Conservative MPs regularly since 1970.

And Waveney - about to be renamed Lowestoft - was held by Labour between 1997 and 2010.

But the Conservatives have held every 'rural' seat in the county since 1951 when the Liberal member for Eye was defeated.

Now, however, Labour believes winning the seats of Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk Coastal may not be beyond it if the current government's problems continue.

It has produced a list of 'low priority' seats where the national party will allow local members to go ahead with selecting their own (nationally approved) candidate but cannot expect any additional help in the campaign.

These seats include South Suffolk, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and West Suffolk.

However Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk Coastal are seen as 'development' seats that could taken in a very good year and are likely to get extra help for the campaign.

This decision was based on past results and recent local election results.

Bury St Edmunds was won by former MP David Ruffley with a majority of only 368 in 1997 and, while there have been a few changes since then, it is largely unaltered.

However Tory Jo Churchill had majority of almost 25,000 in 2019 and the Green Party is strong in the Mid Suffolk part of the constituency.

It seems that the area's Conservatives are relaxed about the idea of a Labour challenge.

In Suffolk Coastal the situation is different - Labour believe sitting MP Therese Coffey could be vulnerable because of a number of issues in the area, most recently concern about water quality and energy policy.

They see the fact that the Tories lost most of their councillors in the constituency in May's local elections as an indication of dissatisfaction with Dr Coffey.

And they came second in the general election of 2019 - privately saying if they came second with Jeremy Corbyn as leader and in a very bad year nationally, they should improve on that next time.

However, they do have challenges.

East Anglian Daily Times: Bury St Edmunds MP Jo ChurchillBury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill (Image: Newsquest)

One policy that has galvanised many of Dr Coffey's opponents is opposition to Sizewell C.

The Labour Party is in favour of developing nuclear power - and leader Sir Keir Starmer has made it clear he feels a new plant at Sizewell should go ahead.

And while Labour did finish second in the constituency at the last general election, in local elections since it has been the Greens and the Liberal Democrats which have provided the main opposition to the Conservatives.

They were the parties that made the big gains in May's local council elections in seats that Labour would have been expected to pick up in the mid-1990s.

Labour is seen by many people to have nothing to offer rural voters.

Suffolk Coastal Conservative Association chairman Ray Herring isn't losing any sleep over a Labour surge in the constituency.

He said: "I know we did badly in May, but it wasn't Labour that was coming after us - back in the 90s they were winning seats all over the place. This time it's the other parties.

"Look at Leiston - that used to have a strong Labour Party, but now it's the Greens who are the opposition there."

And this isn't the first time Labour has had high hopes in Suffolk Coastal - in 2001 the party threw a great deal into the campaign into the seat, including sending in popular former cabinet minister Frank Dobson to campaign in Felixstowe.

In the end John Gummer ended up increasing his Conservative majority which had been cut in 1997.