Seven issues for Suffolk voters to look out for in the 2019 General Election
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
The 2019 General Election is now under way – and there is no doubt that Brexit is currently at the heart of the debate. But what are the issues and turning points that could make a difference to the results in this part of the world?
Can Ipswich Labour campaigners move the debate away from Brexit?
Ipswich is a Brexit town and constituency. In 2016 more than 58% of people in the town voted to leave the EU. However a year later it elected Labour candidate Sandy Martin, a keen Remainer, as its new MP.
Labour had managed to move the debate away from Brexit - and had produced a radical manifesto that many voters liked. It even had the good fortune to have this document leaked in advance so people had longer to study it.
Can they repeat the trick? In 2017 the Conservative campaign was, by general acclaim, one of the worst ever seen in this country. Will this year's effort be as bad? If Tom Hunt does keep the Ipswich campaign focussed on Brexit, Mr Martin is in trouble.
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Will local issues like Ipswich northern bypass or Sizewell be a factor?
They will undoubtedly feature in some election material - but issues like this are unlikely to be quoted strongly in any visits by senior politicians.
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They will have been briefed in advance that something like the northern bypass is controversial, and has its supporters and opponents in both major parties.
The same goes for Sizewell. There are very serious environmental concerns among many in Suffolk about the plans for the new power station - but there are also people who would welcome any new jobs it brings. It's an issue most politicians will be desperate to tiptoe around.
Will the student vote in Ipswich be significant?
Some people felt the votes of students from the University of Suffolk helped Sandy Martin win Ipswich in 2017. That may have made a marginal difference (and with a majority of just over 800 it might have been significant).
This year students may well be on their way home by the time the election is actually held. Will this affect the result? It rather depends on how effective the political parties and students union are in persuading students to apply for postal votes.
Should we believe politicians promises?
You shouldn't take politicians election promises with a pinch of salt. You should bring along the entire product of the nearest salt mine!
Two years ago ministers were bigging up the Upper Orwell Crossing in Ipswich (abandoned because Suffolk County Council and the government couldn't make their sums add up) and the Third Crossing in Lowestoft (still waiting for formal approval and for work to state).
Last week government minister Robert Jenrick came to Ipswich to announce a £25m fund to be administered by a board set up by the local council to invest in the town. The next day the borough council said they knew nothing about this!
The motto is, it's very nice to hear election promises - but don't stake your life on them coming true anytime soon!
How important will The Brexit Party be in the general election?
They won the European election in this country in June - but don't expect a repeat performance from them in the General Election.
Opinion polls suggest the arrival of Brexiteer Boris Johnson as Prime Minister has led to many Brexit Party supporters switching to the Conservatives and they're happy to give him the chance to "Get Brexit Done."
The Brexit Party could take some votes off both Labour and the Conservatives, but that is only likely to have a major impact in a marginal seat like Ipswich.
If the Brexit Party has a very good election it could worry Tories in Clacton - but that would be a surprise for most political pundits.
Will the environment be a major issue in the election?
Politicians will be very quick to say how important this is as an election issue - and will often quote David Attenborough's highlighting of the dangers of plastic in the oceans.
But they don't want to tell voters that they should use their cars less or give up their flights to holiday destinations around the world!
It's an issue that they will be happy to talk about if it is raised (in the most bland way possible) but they won't want to say anything to scare the voters.
Of course the environment will be at the heart of the Green Party campaign - and their politicians will be painting the situation in as stark a light as possible.
Will we get a clear result in the election?
Since 2015 that has become very difficult because of the situation in Scotland. Scotland has 59 MPs and 35 are currently from the SNP. They are expected to gain more in December's election.
Before 2015 Labour was very strong in Scotland - and the rise of the SNP has made it much more difficult for the party to win a majority in the UK.
The Conservatives had been weaker in Scotland over recent decades but now have 13 Scottish MPs against Labour's seven - many from both parties are thought to be vulnerable to the SNP.
In England, members of all parties think there could be a loosening of traditional loyalties - giving the Tories hope in industrial areas of the midlands and north and Labour the belief that they can take former Conservative fortresses (like Canterbury where the student vote helped in 2017)