Blizzard's white out is failing Labour

PETER Aldous's selection as Conservative candidate for Waveney is not only good news for the Tories of north Suffolk but means the constituency will once again have a voice in the East Anglian Daily Times.

By Graham Dines

PETER Aldous's selection as Conservative candidate for Waveney is not only good news for the Tories of north Suffolk but means the constituency will once again have a voice in the East Anglian Daily Times.

The sitting Labour MP Bob Blizzard has not spoken to either myself or my colleagues since the Classical Swine Fever outbreak in 1999 which wiped out tens of thousands of pigs in Suffolk and the rest of the country.

At the time, he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Baroness Hayman, then Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr Blizzard threw his rattle out of the pram because this newspaper had the temerity to speak regularly to South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo, Shadow Agriculture Minister, and who was in touch with farmers all over Britain facing financial ruin because of the disease.


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Agriculture Minister Nick Brown refused repeated calls to visit distressed farmers in Suffolk and turned down requests for interviews. He eventually slunk into the county for a nightime meeting with NFU members at Bury St Edmunds, but would not publicly account to the media for his ministry's handling of the outbreak.

Ever since, Mr Blizzard has cold shouldered me and declined to talk to the EADT. Neither Charles Clarke, when Chairman of the Labour Party, nor the regional office of the Labour Party, could persuade him to treat the media with common courtesies. Colleagues on other newspapers have to go through a Press spokesman for comments but requests from the EADT are never returned.

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With less than a handful of Labour MPs in the EADT's circulation area, Bob Blizzard's refusal to help promote the Government's cause does Tony Blair and his ministers a huge disservice.

Not that that should worry Waveney Conservatives, especially as they achieved a 9.3% swing from Labour in last week's Kessingland by-election, which if repeated at the General Election would be enough to see Mr Aldous elected.

With Peter Aldous and the Liberal Democrat candidate, when he or she is chosen, assured of full media coverage, it'll be up to our readers in Beccles, Bungay, Kessingland, Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, and the constituency's rural villages to wonder why their MP is so silent.

n Ipswich Labour Party's obsession with keeping the borough's mayoralty to itself means that a councillor with just three years' experience will become first citizen from June. Labour has denied Conservatives and Liberal Democrats the opportunity to hold the office for the past 25 years – a record that discredits local government and councillors.

A community's mayoralty should be above party politics, even in Ipswich where Labour has always won a majority of seats since 1979.

The Government is believed to want proportional representation for council elections when large unitary authorities are eventually introduced on enlarged boundaries. If that results in the inclusion of the Tory and Lib Dem voting villages and overspill estates of East Suffolk helping put an end to the Labour Ipswich soviet's shameful hogging of the council chair, it will be a welcome reform.

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