This is clearly a column I’d rather not be writing.
I’d first like to thank the 18,051 Ipswich people who voted for me and for Labour on May 7th. I know many of you were desperate for a change of government and are bitterly disappointed at the result.
But Labour didn’t win and, in the end, it wasn’t even particularly close.
That it is the judgement of the voters. It is the basis of our democracy that we all accept the result, even if some of us wanted a different one.
There will now be a great deal of academic effort devoted to finding out who voted, which way and why.
For what it’s worth my overall view, after speaking to hundreds of people over the campaign, is that there didn’t appear to be a great deal of enthusiasm for the Tories, but there was even less for Labour:
Too many couldn’t see Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.
There was a fear of a government reliant on the SNP.
Some blamed Labour for the economic crash in 2008 and didn’t trust us with the economy.
There was a general distrust of politicians’ promises. Many of Labour’s individual policies were popular but a significant number of people who might have benefitted from them didn’t actually believe we’d put them into practice.
People who hadn’t necessarily done well – but done alright – over the last five years didn’t believe Labour was offering them enough to take the risk of changing course.
These are big issues which the new Leader of the Labour Party will need to address.
One consolation is that the result in Ipswich appeared to be almost entirely down to national issues.
In fact I spoke to quite a few people who said they were very happy with the way Labour was running the council and were voting Labour in the council elections but not in the General.
I am pleased and honoured to continue as Leader of Ipswich Borough Council. There is still a great deal of work to do.
The losing candidate in a General Election isn’t necessarily the best person to find out why people voted how they did.
Virtually everyone who has spoken to me has said they are devastated by the result and they don’t know anyone who voted Conservative.
If this was a representative sample of Ipswich people then I would have stormed to victory with 100% of the vote!
We genuinely want to learn the lessons of this election so, if you didn’t feel you could vote Labour this time, please get in touch and let us know why.
You can do this either by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to: Ipswich Labour Party, 33 Silent Street, Ipswich IP1 1TF
In many ways this year’s General Election result was very similar to that of 1992. In that election too it was predicted that there would be a change of government and there was a sense of shock and disbelief from Labour supporters when John Major hung on.
It was that result, and the desire to work actively to ensure there was a different result next time, that prompted me to join the Labour Party.
If that’s the way you feel now you can join online at: join.labour.org.uk or contact the Ipswich Labour Party Office on 01473 255131.