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Why Did Tory Ben Gummer Lose Ipswich to Labour’s Sandy Martin?

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Image result for ben in the pub ipswich

‘Mr Ipswich’ Off to Spend More Time in the Pub.

“Just 48 hours ago he was one of the most powerful men in the British government. Now Ben Gummer’s parliamentary career has come to an abrupt end – whether temporarily or permanently. Why did he lose?”

Writes the ‘Big Fella’ Paul Geater in the Ipswich Star.

During the campaign Ben Gummer always seemed supremely confident, talking confidently about Labour voters switching to him because they didn’t like Jeremy Corbyn. If this was all spin then he and his team were acting very well when they spoke to me!

Even after our survey suggested Sandy Martin was in the lead, they insisted all was well – but clearly things were not going as well as he hoped. Why?

Firstly many people voted for the first time. Turnout was significantly up and many of these appeared to be young people.

They were motivated to vote Labour because they liked Jeremy Corbyn’s radical plans, especially abolishing university tuition fees, and were determined to make their voice heard.

The number of people voting Conservative in Ipswich actually went up between 2015 and 2017 by about 1,600 – but Labour’s vote increased by more than 6,000 votes. The UKIP vote fell by 4,000 – but these votes appear to have been split evenly.

Some policies were not popular: workers said the confusion and mixed messages over pension reform and social care payments had worried some voters.

The lack of attention from big-name visitors also gave the impression that Tory High Command took Ipswich for granted. They seemed to think that a Cabinet minister with a 3,733 majority couldn’t need help.

Some voters appeared to feel that Mr Gummer’s focus was no longer on the town with his new ministerial role – and the fact that he did not have a home in Ipswich at the time of the election did not help.

Given his work in the town, this was probably unfair – but it created an impression his opponents could exploit by emphasising that Mr Martin had lived in Ipswich for decades.

And a number of small policy statements caused real problems – one of the most irritating for workers was the suggestion that the government could repeal hunting legislation. One of his team said to me: “Why couldn’t she (Theresa May) just shut up about that. It’s not a big issue but it could cost us a few hundred votes!”

Another series of explanations:

  • The Labour vote, as Geater notes, grew amongst young people. As he says, particularly of first-time voters, “They were motivated to vote Labour because they liked Jeremy Corbyn’s radical plans, especially abolishing university tuition fees, and were determined to make their voice heard.” This is a national trend. Most studies of voting behaviour in the UK underline that most people cast their ballot in line with countrywide trends. This would equally apply to people’s concern with “confusion and mixed messages over pension reform and social care payments”, a worry that  was reflected all over Britain. The Star and EADT’s political columnist could have added that young people’s interest in the issue of tuition fees was not just something ‘out there’. It was very evident on the ground. In my own street when delivering Labour leaflets a young bloke saw the Party sign and raised a clenched fist while saying “Up the Labour! I want Corbyn to sort out my tuition fees”. Others can confirm that this was very far from a one off incident.
  • If the Tory High Command “took Ipswich for granted” this was hardly the case for Ben’s own team. They have worked hard over the years to build up an image of the Conservative MP as Mr Ipswich, even putting on their web site a map of the town which you could click on to find what “Ben had done” to help, street by street.  When this Blog pointed out, in a kindly way,  that this may be seen as arrogant, the chart disappeared. But similar bold claims about the candidate’s actions “for Ipswich” continued.
  • The “focus on the town” is, as a result, a more complex issue than Geater’s comments reveals.  Ben’s constant efforts to portray himself as the Minister for Ipswich, and the Best Friend Ipswich has ever had, were not universally appreciated whatever the merits of the former MP’s efforts.  I could cite the the freebie Waterfront Life, which those of us who leave not far from the old Docks, receive. He gave – in two pieces, The Winerack and Non-Political Question Time  – the impression that it was the Right Hon. Gummer who was Ipswich Borough Council, The Right Hon who was the man pioneering the Town’s future. Those who know that the hard working Labour councillors who run Ipswich Borough were not impressed.  Nor were his ‘matey’ evenings, Ben in the Pub, appealing to everybody. Some would have welcomed his focus elsewhere, especially, as many remarked, as  Gummer does not live in Ipswich.
  • It was not just the Conservative Manifesto’s promises for future policies, such as bringing back hunting, but present ones that were unpopular. Locally voters would see that austerity affects their lives directly. Suffolk County Council is at present Tory run. It has ruthlessly cut services, including social care, and outsourced many of their activities. They are in a sorry state. To take one example, the massive cuts in provision for young people, particularity the disadvantaged, is storing up social problems.  To this one could add long-standing problems about the County Council. Many voters are aware of the mess their contracted out Highway Services  is in: the state of the roads in Suffolk is a standing joke.
  • Ben Gummer made much of his commitment to improved rail services. Those who use the trains to get to London will have noticed that his efforts have not affected the steadily deteriorating rail links, and the sky high ticket prices that privatisation has brought. Many will perhaps considered that Gummer’s claims, made since 2010 with no visible result,  are rubbing salt in open wounds. These are just some hard-to-ignore  examples of how Conservative rule has made people’s lives worse and have surely undermined the former MP’s support.
  • If there was one thing which sums up the results of Conservative government cuts, and mean-spirited welfare system, it is the constant presence of street-begging and rough sleepers in Ipswich. People in the town feel shame that in a wealthy country we have the homeless and destitute left to ask for money in the streets.

Then there is his opponent, Sandy Martin who ran an enthusiastic campaign, backed by an energetic team that included many young people.

  • Sandy Martin by  is known across the town as a man whose tireless work, not constantly flagged up as the acts of Mr Ipswich, have made a real difference. From case-work as a Town (until not that long ago) and (now) County Councillor, Sandy has built up a solid reputation as a reliable and likeable local figure. A broad constituency, from ordinary town residents, campaigners on a wider variety of issues,and labour movement activists know that Sandy is somebody who has stood on their side and contributed to their work.
  • Ipswich Labour Party has a well-organised network of supporters, from every walk of life, prepared to talk to and listen to Ipswich people. Sanday’s campaign reflected this. It was very obvious during the campaign that the party is deeply rooted in Ipswich. With a good candidate, the local party backing, the radical and democratic politics in Labour’s Manifesto  found an audience.

Finally,….

Not everybody likes ‘Ben’s Bridge’ either,

General election 2017: New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin to ask for rethink on Orwell Crossing link

New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin is to ask the Department for Transport to look again at the proposals for a large new bridge between Wherstead Road and Cliff Quay.

He is to ask the government to look at diverting the money to help fund the £100m project to a northern by-pass for the town.

It was one of his pledges during the election campaign, and he is planning to take up the issue when he travels to Westminster next week.

He said: “There are three bridges proposed as part of the Upper Orwell Crossing. Two of them – the road bridge to the island site and the footbridge over the lock gates – I wholeheartedly support.

“But the largest bridge does not have public support and I shall be speaking to the department to see if the funds can go to a more important strategic route, the northern by-pass.”

The crossings were strongly backed by former MP Ben Gummer – and are now a formal county council-managed project. The government funding is due to come through when work is about to start.

County council cabinet member for Ipswich Paul West said it would be pressing ahead with the project. He said: “This is a full project, you can’t plan to have one or two of the bridges.

“And it isn’t possible to move the money from one Ipswich project to another in the town – if it is taken away from this then it would go to another part of the country.”

The crossing is also backed by the business community in Ipswich.

Catherine Johnson, chair of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich said: “Firstly, on behalf of the Chamber we’d like to congratulate Sandy on being elected as Ipswich’s MP.

“Secondly, as with the other six Suffolk MPs, we are looking forward to working with him on a range of issues of interest and concern to the business community.

“We note his comments about diverting funds from the Upper Orwell Crossings scheme to that of the northern bypass. We hope to listen in more detail to his thinking on this particular issue.

“We also look forward to a productive dialogue on the overall need for Ipswich to have a modern infrastructure that allows a much freer and more efficient flow of goods and people both within and to and from the town.”

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Ipswich Tory Candidate, Benedict Gummer, Goes Poet: After “Marxist Hell”, “Beauty matters, because people do”.

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Tory Propaganda: “Punative” (sic) Hell that Ben Gummer is Determined to Reject.

Posted under the rubric ‘News’ Benedict Gummer, Ipswich Tory Candidate, writes,

Beauty matters, because people do.

Ben is a bit of an expert on the former Eastern bloc.

He once spent a short holiday there with his dad the Right Hon John Gummer, after the collapse of Communist, oh, and over two decades back.

On this basis he declares:

It was a Marxist hell...

Ben’s anfractuous account of this short trip is the occasion for a cantillation on the Orwell Bridge, Ipswich and ends with an eucatastrophe.

He states, “Why do I bring this now?”

” I was struck recently by one of John Norman’s many excellent pieces for the Ipswich Star, in which he described the creation of Alton Water and the complicated way in which water is moved about Ipswich to ensure that when we turn a tap, something fresh and potable comes out.

We learn,

One detail I did not know: that through the middle of the Orwell Bridge is a large pipe, that carries water from Alton to the Felixstowe peninsula.  It was a good reminder of the hidden services that are all over the place, without which modernity would be finished.

From the Marxist hell to the heaven – “simple and beautiful”  – that is the Orwell Bridge but a logical step in the mind of a man of poetic depth.

Benny concludes,

“If you value beauty in our built environment, you value people too. “

Yet, “If you accept poor design and an ugly environment, you also implicitly condemn the people who must live and work in those places to a life less happy and contented than they would otherwise enjoy.”

“…as our town rises from its own long period of neglect, it will show its resurgence by its recovery of beauty and charm.”

Modestly his web site contains a picture where you can click showing how his efforts, street by street,  are bringing pulchritude and delightfulness to Ipswich

Ben’s Biggest Achievements for Ipswich so far

Click here to find out what Ben is achieving in your local area.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Vote David Ellesmere, Vote Labour!

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Ed Miliband came to Ipswich yesterday.

He was interviewed on Look East.

Ed showed a sure grasp of the key issues facing people in the Town*

These included a low wage economy, a town centre in need of regeneration, and people working on zero hour contracts, as well as the health service and education.

The Labour leader has visibly grown in stature over the last few weeks.

He responded with clarity and modest determination.

It was impressive.

Miliband spoke to local paper, the Star,

..he said the key message he had heard from local people was that the economy had not got better for ordinary workers.

He said: “It may be better if you work in the City of London or you’re one of the highest-paid people in the country, but this idea that the wealth will trickle down is nonsense.

“The people working hard to try to improve their lives are not seeing any improvements, and it is time we changed things to ensure that any recovery is shared by everyone – not just the richest.”

David Ellesmere was present to welcome Labour’s Battle Bus.

David has also risen in – political – stature during the election campaign.

As leader of the Labour Group in Ipswich Borough Council he had headed a team dedicated to making things better for ordinary people.

Labour councillors have  has introduced the Living Wage for all its employees – and contractors.

They have banned the use of ‘workfare’ by the Council.

The Borough has engaged in a programme of building council houses (although one project has been held up by Eric Pickles).

It has invested in land, in supporting schemes to help ordinary people (such as the Credit Union), and a range of community bodies.

More broadly Ipswich Council has backed progressive policies, such as an anti-racist march.

David appeared at the first public meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly (SPA), along with Owen Jones, and the Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa MacKay and other trade unionists.

Campaigning locally for the Living Wage, Ipswich Labour, local community groups, and the SPA, have tried to extend this principle.

On Suffolk County Council, the Labour leader, Sandy Martin – who also works with the SPA – has attempted to get this administration to adopt the Living Wage. The Conservatories have blocked it.

Recently David came along to a SPA/UNITE protest against the sanctions regime for benefit claimants -a  major cause of the rise of Food Banks.

Ipswich Labour, and David Ellesmere, have done a through, careful, job of making things better for ordinary people – just as Ed Miliband intends to do.

They have earned a lot of trust in the constituency.

By contrast Tory candidate Ben Gummer is looking increasingly rattled.

His efforts to claim credit for every thing positive that has happened to the town, up to and including the recent sunny weather (I made that one up – just…), are, people admit, at least pleasanter than his colleagues’ attempts to spread  fear of a Labour doomsday.

Ben Gummer tries to show his liberal side, but has come down hard in favour of the sanctions regime, and other regressive Tory policies.

Many people are tried of free-market politicians who lay ownership of economic upturns (never downturns), while disclaiming government responsibility for the precarious existence a large number of working people, not to mention benefit claimants, have to live.

I have no insight into the voting intentions of the public.

But if Ipswich is anything to go by, the hard-graft of politicians like David and his colleagues, is beginning to pay off.

 * population 133,400 – up to 200, 000 if you include the coterminous villages and small towns.

Ben Gummer, Tory Ipswich, Nudging and Edging.

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Kevin Algar: Ben Gummer’s Top Man.

The ‘Election Battle‘ for Ipswich is hotting up.

Ever so often Ben Gummer, Cabinet Minister for Ipswich, Editor Ipswich Star, Local Government Correspondent Ipswich Star, Mayor of Ipswich,  Shop-Steward (National Union of Private Debt  Managers, Canary Wharf), Producer, Channel Four News, Patron of Lady Lane Shrine, presents the Alternative View on Tendance Coatesy.

“As somebody who knows what it’s like to be denied media time, I’d like to thank Coatesy for the opportunity to ‘get the message’ out.

Your doing a great job chaps – and chappettes! –  even if you didn’t have my ‘privileged’ (dread word!) education in the Trivium and Quadrivium.

I care passionately about my town!

In my term of office I have:

  • Kept working class ‘council houses’ from polluting the beautiful meadows of Ravenswood – thanks Mr Pickles!
  • Constructed and funded scores of New Schools in Ipswich, and passed thousands of A levels and GCSE’s.
  • My betting and pound shop building programme has reduced Ipswich Unemployment by 50%.
  • Backed national ‘sanctioning’ ‘targets’ for so-called ‘claimants’ leading to a fourfold rise in their numbers.
  • With the Help of ATOS and (now) Maximus I have healed the lame and halt at the Shrine of Lady Lane.
  • Brought a halt to the restrictions of employee representation by supporting to an end to interfering union activity.
  • Dredged the Orwell and laid the foundation stone for a new Bridge between Ipswich and Harwich.

As East Anglia’s (and soon the Country’s?) Premier Blogger Kevin says,

“Hats off to Benjy! With you at the helm of Ipswich I’m proud to be standing as a Conservative Candidate in the May local elections!”

Ben Gummer MP: Ipswich ‘Wanksocks’ speaks on Unemployed Life-Style Choice.

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Ipswich Tory Toff says Unemployed Must Pay for ‘Lifestyle Choice’.

Ipswich MP, Sir Ben Gummer, Mayor of Ipswich, Minister for Ipswich, Patron Saint of Lady Lane, and Secretary – for life – of the General Association of City Workers Against the Homeless, gives the alternative view to Tendance Coatesy.

“I care passionately about Ipswich. I am proud of our town. But we could achieve so much more. Discover my vision for a strong future for Ipswich.”

I say these words, to my good friend Basil FotheringtonThomas every day.

“Hello clouds, hello sky” he replies.

How right he is.

I do notice some oiks who are still living on the street – next to Sainsbury’s.

The filthy beggars asked for my hard-earned money only yesterday!

I read Chomsky you know! – this is all the crisis of lazybones.

The Ipswich so-called working class must pull their socks up.

Here is what I said,

I asked this employer, which is a respected player in the food industry, if they had taken any recruits from the Work Programme for the long-term unemployed. They said they had but their representative sighed and raised an eyebrow. I asked her to elaborate. Well, she said, take the last group sent by the Job Centre. There were twenty people due to turn up for an induction session on the Monday; only twelve turned up. Of those twelve, only eight came the second day, when work properly began. And of that eight, only four were still working at the end of the week. That’s four people out of twenty – and all twenty could have had a job. The pay was a little Minimum Wage, inside, in a clean environment. So this was a chance of a good job that sixteen people who had been unemployed for a long time chose to pass up.

The result, the employer explained, was that they were forced to turn to migrant labour. Migrant workers from Eastern Europe were, she said, in general punctual, hard-working and reliable. Some English people were also punctual, hard-working and reliable, but many sent by the Job Centre were not.

Long term unemployment is falling too, but is still far too high: 740 people in Ipswich have been out of work for more than twelve months. For those that want to get a job, the amount of support they receive is now greater than ever before – in skills, in training, in interview practice and in work placements. But there is still a small number who are unwilling to make a go of it. Our benefit reforms have made it much harder for such people to choose to live on benefits – and the prime minster has promised that, should he win the next election, we will do more. I support this: when there is the possibility of work, everyone in this town should have the opportunity – and duty – to work. Otherwise, it is the rest of us – the low paid included – who must pay for that lifestyle decision.

Ben Gummer Tory Toff and Parasite.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Iain Duncan Smith Greeted with Shouts of ‘Murderer’ as he visits Ipswich.

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Iain Duncan Smith MP (centre) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions visits the new youth employment centre MyGo in Ipswich. Photograph Simon Parker
"Photo:

We had a long wait for Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) yesterday (we began at 9 o’clock)  but he finally arrived at “MyGo” Ipswich at 5.00 pm, accompanied by Ben Gummer, before heading off to a £45 a head Tory fund raising dinner in Melton.

This Tory Party stunt received a hostile welcome from many people.

Members of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts)  from Suffolk and Norfolk, and Suffolk Peoples Assembly made sure the message that his term of office as Work & Pensions Minister has been a disaster for people with disabilities and should be terminated immediately came over loud and clear.

As we stood many Ipswich people came up and told us their own stories of how IDS has made their lives worse.

Cries of ‘murderer’ greeted the Tory Toff as he was spotted in the building.

So effective was this messaging that the tv interview they were trying to conduct had to be moved from room to room within the building – only for DPAC banners and renewed chanting to pop up outside the window of each successive refuge.

We think they might have had to hide in the broom cupboard to complete the footage!

The report on Look East (BBC) mentioned that a “small group of protesters tried to disrupt the visit.”

They showed the Proud Banner of Suffolk DPAC in the window of the room where he’d finally scurried to.

Report from Sarah and Andy.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm

As Greens Contemplate ‘Confidence and Supply’ Agreement with Conservatives Ipswich Green ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to Oppose Tory MP.

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Mark Ereira-Guyer

Suffolk Green Leader, Mark Ereira-Guyer ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to stand against Ipswich Tory MP.

Latest news on the Green Front,

The resurgent Green party is to target a dozen seats across England, which it believes it could either win or come close to seizing in next May’s general election, as membership rises and confidence grows that it could outpoll the Lib Dems.

……..

As the Greens have gained more media attention, Bennett has thought seriously about post-election possibilities, and what role her party might play in supporting a Tory- or Labour-led government. “I can’t imagine circumstances in which we would prop up a Tory government,” she says. “Our first inclination would be a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement, rather than a coalition, because it means you provide stable government – you don’t get the ministerial cars but you keep your conscience and you don’t have to vote for tuition fees, for example.”

Guardian site.

The Ipswich Star reported on October the 10th,

Ipswich: Green Party candidate “hasn’t the heart” to take on MP Ben Gummer at General Election

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

In a letter to the Ipswich Green Party he said his business and council commitments meant he was not able to devote enough time to fighting the seat and he wanted the party to have time to find another candidate.

….

He added: “Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.”

“Mr Gummer was flattered to hear Mr Ereira-Guyer’s comments. He said: “I’m sorry he won’t be standing because I have a lot of time for him and I think we would have some good debates on the hustings. I hope he remains on the political scene in Suffolk.”

The Greens are due to select another candidate.

Whether this endorsement of the Ipswich Conservative candidate, or at the very least, glowing tribute, is to be followed in the rest of the country is unclear.

It would certainly smooth the way for a “confidence and supply” agreement if the Greens helped other Tories in marginals.

There are suggestions from greens that Mr Ereira-Guyer’s decision is not unrelated to the failure of the national Green Party to give the sprightly Suffolk leader the recognition he feels is consummate with his talents.

He failed to become the Party’s deputy leader.

Sources close to the Suffolk Labour Party have commented that he certainly has a high opinion of himself.

This is from the Tories’ favourite Green’s own Blog site,

We must all move from being a reckless ego-centric society to an eco-centric one. We need to ensure everyone has enough for a decent life wherever they live in the world. We should perhaps recall the adage: there is no wealth but life. We need to find a way of living where we all find joy and fulfillment in ‘enough’.

As a Councillor I will continually work to encourage and explain the kind of changes required that can meet our – and the rest of biodiversity’s – needs in a way that our current ego-centric system isn’t and simply can’t.

Many will had enough of this after the first sentence!

Ereira-Guyer also cites this,

We need to appreciate that we can and should be winning votes from the right and the left, because we are NOT a party of the left.

Even if we think we are, we should not be using that term, because the Green Party’s prime USP is that we as a society will not approach equality until we recognise that there are limits to growth.

R Lindsay, Journalist & Green Party member

You can keep up to date with Ipswich Green Party on their site – which has yet to register this decision.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2014 at 10:34 am