Opinion: Labour’s election campaign was a monumental flop locally and nationally, writes Paul Geater

Despite Ed Miliband's visit to Ipswich, the Labour campaign in the town was a disaster.

Despite Ed Miliband's visit to Ipswich, the Labour campaign in the town was a disaster. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

For weeks the polls have been telling us that the election was too close to call, and that we’d have weeks of haggling before a new government could be formed.

I always thought David Cameron was most likely to remain as Prime Minister – but I did expect that he would have to form a new coalition, or at least seek some agreement with a group of about 30 Liberal Democrats.

Despite national polls, I retained this belief as it became increasingly clear that the Labour Party campaign was a total disaster, both locally and nationally.

There was a great deal of negative campaigning in this year’s election campaign – the Conservatives’ insistence that Nicola Sturgeon would hold a Labour government to ransom or the LibDems’ warnings about extremism come to mind.

But no campaign was as riddled with negativity as the Labour effort.

I concentrated on the battle in Ipswich – and it became clear that here Labour was only interested in telling people how dreadful the last five years had been and how they wanted to “govern for everyone, not just the rich.”

While Ben Gummer was talking about the new Wet Dock Crossing, improvements to the rail service, and reinventing the Town Centre, Labour seemed to have no ideas.

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Their campaign seemed to involve the same old faces doing the same old things that they had done for previous five general elections I’d covered.

When I was told last Sunday that some Labour supporters felt that “Ipswich is slipping through our fingers” I wasn’t surprised.

But then the Ipswich campaign merely reflected the national effort. There might be a lot of people struggling out there, but there are also many who think things might just be getting better for them.

They’re the people who voted for the party between 1997 and 2005. And they were ignored this time. Is it any wonder that they chose to ignore Labour in return?