Is the Prime Minister looking for a bolthole on our coast?

David Cameron in Ipswich last month.

David Cameron in Ipswich last month. - Credit: Archant

What does Prime Minister David Cameron find so appealing about this part of the country? He’s turning up here with incredible regularity.

Today he’s visiting Suffolk and Norfolk for the second time in just three weeks. It’s his fifth visit to Suffolk since he became prime minister and he’s also visited Clacton and Colchester over the last few months.

Is he eyeing up the possibility of buying a holiday home in the area, maybe in one of our coastal hotspots like Southwold or Aldeburgh?

I know there are some key marginal seats in the region – Ipswich, Waveney, and (since the end of August last year) Clacton – but there are concentrations of more marginal seats in other parts of the country.

And let’s face it, his predecessors never spent a great deal of time in this part of the world. True, Gordon Brown did visit Ipswich three times during his short Premiership – that was probably a sign of his gratitude to the town’s former MP Chris Mole who was one of the first to publicly urge Tony Blair to step down sooner rather than later.

Before that, prime ministers in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk were rarer than hen’s teeth!

Tony Blair visited Ipswich once in what felt like a royal visit and he also visited Clacton in 2005 in a vain attempt by Ivan Henderson to remain the MP for that constituency.

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John Major never came to Ipswich during his Premiership – although he did pass through the station on his way to a business meeting in Felixstowe.

Mrs Thatcher visited Ipswich during the 1987 election campaign and was also famously pictured cuddling a calf in the old Eye constituency while campaigning for John Gummer in 1979. She also visited Felixstowe in the mid-1980s to address the Conservative Central Council at the Spa Pavilion.

When I asked Ben Gummer why the PM is so keen to come here – he brought the whole cabinet to Martlesham in 2011 – the Ipswich MP said with a smile that he recognised his claim that Suffolk was the “California of Britain”.

Certainly this area deserves a great deal of attention from the government – it is one of only three regions that consistently pays more to the Exchequer than it gets out.

Frankly we deserve these visits from the Prime Minister. When the Treasury puts money into this part of the world, it really is an investment – it can be sure it will get back more than it puts in.

From that point of view we deserve this attention from our political lords and masters, but for those of us who have been brought up on the morsels of the occasional visit by a humble cabinet minister it is pretty rich fayre.

So far Ed Miliband has visited Ipswich just once as Labour leader – he’s got to get several more journeys up the A12 under his belt if he’s going to match the PM!

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