Nine things you didn’t know about Suffolk’s General Elections
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk rarely produces any dramatic upsets outside of Ipswich in General Elections, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting to see what the results are as they trickle in during the small hours of Friday, December 13.
Voters will already be getting to know the candidates, issues and election literature doing the rounds, but here are a few things about elections in Suffolk you may not know about.
1) The first time a female candidate stood in West Suffolk was 2010, when Belinda Brooks-Gordon came second for the Liberal Democrats. The constituency has only been in existence since 1997 when the Bury St Edmunds constituency was revamped, but women have been allowed to stand as parliamentary candidates since 1918.
2) The last time the Bury St Edmunds constituency had an MP who wasn't Conservative was 1885 with Liberal Joseph Hardcastle.
It was the final year that constituency had two MPs, and even then the other was Conservative (Edward Greene).
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3) To further demonstrate the dominance of the Conservatives in Bury St Edmunds, it had the largest majority of any seat in Suffolk at the last General Election in 2017 with 18,441. West Suffolk, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and South Suffolk all had majorities north of 17,000.
4) The Bury St Edmunds constituency is the largest in Suffolk in terms of electorate. At the last election two years ago it had 86,071 eligible voters - more than 5,300 more than the next biggest Waveney.
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5) The Ipswich seat has changed hands between parties nine times in the last century, making it one of the key marginal seats in the country.
The most recent occasion was 2017 when Labour's Sandy Martin narrowly defeated Ben Gummer (Conservative) by 831 votes.
6) Some Ipswich voters will remember the 1970 election when Ernle Money won the seat by a majority of just 13 votes for the Conservatives, putting it among the 16 lowest majorities in a UK General Election since 1945.
7) John Cobbold (Conservative) is among the 25 oldest MPs to lose their seats, losing the Ipswich seat in 1868 at the age of 71.
8) This year's election marks the first time two full cabinet members are defending seats in Suffolk - health secretary Matt Hancock (West Suffolk) and secretary of state for work and pensions Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal). However, from June 1983-September 1984 Lowestoft MP Jim Prior served as Northern Ireland secretary while John Gummer (Suffolk Coastal) was chairman of the Conservative Party - a role which is generally seen as equivalent rank to a cabinet role but not formally a full cabinet position.
9) In 1950, two sitting MPs were forced to fight for the same seat in Suffolk. The separate Parliamentary constituencies of Sudbury and Woodbridge were merged to become one seat that year, with the sitting MPs from each John Hare (Woodbridge) and Roland Hamilton (Sudbury) facing off against one another. Conservative Mr Hare beat Labour's Mr Hamilton by more than 4,500 votes.