OPINION: Why election night was good for Labour and a disaster for Tories

Ipswich count 2022

The election count in Ipswich on Thursday night - Credit: Paul Geater

There is usually a lot of spin from political parties following local elections, but the results in Ipswich this year could not be clearer.

Just as last year was unequivocally bad for Labour, this year was exceptionally good and an absolute disaster for the Conservatives.

Of the 17 seats up for election, Labour won 14. The Conservatives lost half the seats they were defending. There were more Labour councillors called Colin elected this year than the Conservatives won in total.

Last year the Conservatives talked of a “dream result” and boasted that they would take control of Ipswich next year. So why did the Conservative dream of 2021 turn into such a nightmare for them in 2022?

One obvious reason is that people are pretty happy with Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council. Our policies of investing in parks and play areas, building new council houses and bringing new businesses to the town centre such as the Botanist are practical and popular.

People told us how they appreciate the help we’re giving to temper the Cost of Living Crisis such as keeping brown bins free of charge, free summer sporting activities for children and installing solar panels on council houses.

On the other hand, many look at the local alternative and do not like what they see.

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Every Conservative-run council in Suffolk charges for brown bins, with some charging more than £50. 

Conservative-run Suffolk County Council has left Ipswich’s roads in a shocking condition – one of the biggest local complaints we get on the doorstep. If you want to see the difference between a Labour council and a Conservative one in Ipswich, compare our fantastic Labour parks with our pothole rutted Conservative roads.

Suffolk’s Conservatives have wasted money on a grand scale, throwing millions away on the failed Upper Orwell Crossings and Northern Bypass projects. They have failed to win a single penny of funding from their own Government to improve bus services compared to the £25m Town Fund money that Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council successfully bid for.

Ipswich’s Conservative councillors seem to spend most of their time bickering with people on social media. One of them has been suspended from their party for – unbelievably – supporting Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Conservatives need to show some bottle and kick him out of their party for good rather than automatically letting him back in now the elections are out of the way, which seems to be their plan.

But the biggest factor deciding how people voted came up time and time again on the doorstep: Boris Johnson.

Put simply, the majority of people in Ipswich have had enough of him. The parties, the lies, the complete failure to provide any meaningful help to people struggling with rising energy, fuel and food prices.

“Liar”, “clown”, “bumbling idiot”, “incompetent” were words we heard repeatedly, along with quite a few more that can’t be printed in a family newspaper.

Last year the Conservatives regarded him as a sure-fire election winner but over the past 12 months he has comprehensively trashed his own reputation. He now repels far more people than he attracts.

The best tool we had on election day to get wavering people out to vote Labour was to show them a photo of Boris Johnson – most were down the polling station like a shot.

He was curiously absent from any literature the Conservatives put out during the election, so they know full well what an electoral liability he is.

Conservative MPs must know that every day Boris Johnson remains as Prime Minister he damages the country and their party further.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

PM Boris Johnson is damaging the Conservative Party, writes David Ellesmere, Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: PA Images

They must know that every time they defend him to their voters, in the press, on radio or on TV they are diminishing their own reputation for the sake of a man who cares nothing for them or their residents.

While Boris Johnson stays as Prime Minister the Conservatives will have many more disastrous nights like Thursday.

Only Conservative MPs can oust a Prime Minister outside of a General Election.

Whether for the good of the country or their own electoral self-interest they need to find a backbone and get rid of Boris Johnson now.

- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.