General Election 2019: Is Ipswich now on the way to becoming a safe seat and why Labour is no longer the working class party
- Credit: Archant
The 2019 General Election produced something of a landslide for the Conservatives - and locally included a strong result to take Ipswich back.
Suffolk local democracy reporter Jason Noble spoke to the University of Suffolk's politics lecturer Dr Christopher Huggins to find out why.
What did you make of the Conservatives' 78 majority?
"I think it was probably higher than a lot of people were expecting.
"When the exit poll comes out that tends to be relatively reliable and you probably would have had a good indication of where the results were going.
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"A Conservative majority was always on the cards but the scale of the majority has taken people by surprise."
What do you think that landslide success was down to?
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"There have been lots of comments about the message of Brexit cutting through and people wanting to get it done, and the Conservatives have put that down to them winning.
"Labour almost was an exercise for not winning. There have been questions of the Labour party leadership and tactical voting may have reflected in the results."
What do you think has changed?
"If you look at the underlying numbers it's been happening for a while, and the shape of British politics is quietly changing.
"Labour's natural voter is no longer the working class people and the middle class is no longer the natural Conservative voter.
"Things like education and age are the better indicators of how people vote and this reconsideration of social class."
What did you make of the result in Ipswich?
"Ipswich was one both parties were investing lots of resources into.
"At the last election that was one of the big scalps and only won on a marginal basis.
"It was always on the cards for both parties to get, and both parties had to win it.
"I guess it's a subtle shift almost from a marginal status to a slightly safer status with a larger majority.
"Places like Ipswich are always on the front line of British politics - one of the never say never seats.
"There are plenty of places today we would have regarded as safe Labour so there is never such a thing as safe seats.
"The Conservatives got a healthy majority and obviously Labour have to win it back.
"Ipswich is in a halfway house of being in a rural county but being an urban town. It's that sweet spot where you have that divide between Conservative and Labour voting areas. I think it will still be an important battleground, so the Conservative candidate shouldn't be complacent."
Why do you think the Conservatives were able to increase their majority so much in Suffolk and what does it mean for the party now?
"I think a lot of it is down to the make up of the seats in the county and that was almost a foregone conclusion in terms of rural seats and Ipswich was where all the focus was.
"The government has now got a majority and it can now push through its agenda. It's also got quite a sizeable majority which we haven't been used to.
"The Conservative party is no longer beholden to some of the more fringe elements of its party.
"Having a sizeable majority gives Boris Johnson a bit more legroom and a bit of wiggleroom, and to be honest Boris Johnson will need that.
"He has said some seats have leant him their support so he cannot pursue a traditional party policy in those areas.
What must Labour do now?
"It will take Labour time. They say they need to dissect and have a period of reflection, and you would expect that from any party that lost an election, but I think it's the scale of the Labour loss that's particularly revealing - their worst result since the 1930s.
"Whatever reflection they have got to do they need to do it quickly because it takes time to rebuild.
"The Labour party still have a job to do as the official opposition and holding the government to account."