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General Election 2019: The numbers behind Labour’s defeat in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 19:33 14 December 2019

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn was not a palatable prospect for voters. Picture: NEIL HANNA/PA Wire

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn was not a palatable prospect for voters. Picture: NEIL HANNA/PA Wire

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The inquest has begun into how Labour so badly lost the 2019 General Election – its worst performance since the 1930s.

Peter Aldous upped his majority by more than 8,000 votes in Waveney. Picture: REECE HANSONPeter Aldous upped his majority by more than 8,000 votes in Waveney. Picture: REECE HANSON

There are all manner of well-versed reasons behind that - the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn, the clarity of Boris Johnson's 'get Brexit done' message, and the numbers in Suffolk back that up conclusively.

For Suffolk's seven seats, the average majority increase for the Conservatives was 6,235. That included turning around Labour's 831 Ipswich majority from 2017 into a much more comfortable 5,479 for the blue corner.

The Conservatives' worst increase in the county was Suffolk Coastal, where that majority increase was 4,521 votes. You know when that is your worst increase it hasn't been a bad night.

Comparing the number of votes for Labour across the seven constituencies its easy to see where those votes came from.

Did the Conservatives win the Ipswich seat or was it a case of Labour losing it that played the bigger part? Picture: BRITTANY WOODMANDid the Conservatives win the Ipswich seat or was it a case of Labour losing it that played the bigger part? Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The average decline was 5,041 votes, marking a significant backward step across the whole county.

That's where the party and its leadership has to take responsibility. The common denominator for all of those was the party leader, the manifesto, even the basic fog of just where the party stood on the highly divisive Brexit line.

The fact that the Tories have willingly admitted Labour voters have 'leant' them their votes speaks volumes. The Conservative candidates didn't even need to campaign that hard in most areas of the county - Labour's national leadership did the campaigning for them.

Many Conservatives locally have recognised the work that Labour's Sandy Martin did in Ipswich, further proof that it wasn't the local Labour cohort who lost the election there.

Therese Coffey upped her majority by 4,521 votes - the smallest increase the Conservatives had in Suffolk! Picture: ARCHANTTherese Coffey upped her majority by 4,521 votes - the smallest increase the Conservatives had in Suffolk! Picture: ARCHANT

Even in Waveney, where Labour and the Greens were hoping to crack the whip Peter Aldous' majority soared by 8,787 more votes than two years ago.

Traditionally, marginal seats like Ipswich can usually expect a visit from the party leader on the campaign trail but we didn't see that this time. Privately, some local Labour members in Ipswich have said how they didn't want Mr Corbyn in town because they felt it would hinder the campaign more than help.

Fundamentally, the Labour party must now realise that its new leader must be more aligned to the centre of the political spectrum. A staunch left wing campaigner hasn't worked because the universal truth of elections is that it isn't your party members you need to convince - it is the general public, the floating voters and those who refuse to pin their colours to either mast eternally.


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