Ipswich was featured again tonight as the chosen marginal seat for political analysis on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme – this time ahead of the Conservative Party conference. Last week Labour figures were interviewed in Ipswich ahead of Ed Miliband’s party gathering in Brighton.
This evening current Ipswich constituency chairman Liz Harsant was interviewed by BBC political correspondent Ben Wright – as was yours truly in my capacity as a former chairman of the Ipswich Conservative Party. Needless to say our views didn’t tally…
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer also offered his views on the state of the Conservative Party and British politics along with County Councillor James Crossley representing UKIP.
Liz Harsant told Mr Wright she was “not totally against the Coalition [government]” as it “knocks the Right down” and “wasn’t against it [another Coalition] happening again”. When asked what she thought of Tory backbenchers making it clear they don’t believe David Cameron can win a majority at the next General Election Mrs Harsant said she “wished they’d shut up and perhaps go”.
I hope Liz doesn’t think I should shut up and go after hearing my views on the same programme! Speaking on Ipswich’s Cornhill (happily the market wasn’t trading the day we recorded) I said whereas I had voted for David Cameron in the Conservative leadership election in 2005, I was not happy with his tack to the Left in an attempt to “detoxify the party” and whilst I welcomed the Coalition’s policies on welfare reform and the economy (albeit the government has not gone far enough) other policies on gay marriage and wind farms go against the values of ordinary Conservative Party members.
Commenting on UKIP’s successes in the Suffolk County Elections in May, Ben Gummer told PM listeners he hoped as we head towards the election people will listen closer to the arguments from all parties and those who have voted UKIP will look at the “real choice ahead of the country in 2015.”
James Crossley said he was picking up a lot of new UKIP members and commented immigration was out of control and that UKIP’s commitment to tackling this was resonating well with voters in Ipswich.
I was pleased Ipswich was chosen by the BBC for their pre-Conference reports and demonstrates again Ipswich’s capacity for political excitement on the national stage. It was also great to be able to show off Ipswich town centre and our magnificent Cornhill square and Town Hall without it being blocked by the market stalls.
You can hear the report from tonight’s PM programme below: