With Conservative MPs queuing up to announce they are not going to run at the next general election, many long-standing politicians are realising that their time is up. Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North, who was a cabinet minister as recently as last month in the disastrous Liz Truss premiership is one of the region’s MPs who has decided to jump before she is pushed. Between boundary changes and Labour’s huge lead in the polls, it’s unlikely she’d keep her Norwich North seat at the next election.
There appears to be a similar realisation happening across parts of the region at councillor level too. Many have decided that given the likelihood they will be voted out in May 2023, they had better start looking for new opportunities. Some, such as the Conservative councillor for Gaywood North & Central in West Norfolk are ahead of the game. Whilst this county seat was not up for election next year, his Borough seat is. Speculation is that he is one of many deciding to leave politics for a new fresh intake of energetic politicians, before the boot.
The county council division in a part of King’s Lynn, with an electorate of nearly 7,500. It is expected to be an interesting bellwether as to how strongly Conservative-leaning and largely blue wall seats will fare next year. The division is even more interesting in that the heavily polluted Gaywood River, which has featured before in East Anglia Bylines, is the boundary to the division of Gaywood South, taken around 16 months ago in a by-election from the Conservatives by the Liberal Democrats, who jumped from third to first place.
The main topic on the doorstep remains the fate of the crumbling 42 year old Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), which now has over 3300 struts holding up a roof that is well past its best and was built to last only 30 years. All the main political parties have led on the QEH in their election literature. Many in the division work at the 515-bed hospital and the town’s anger over continued delays to an announcement by the government is expected to be a deciding factor once again.
The Liberal Democrat candidate David Sayers has called for “a polite message to be to sent to the Conservatives in the ballot box not to forget West Norfolk and our QEH”. He recently criticised Liz Truss MP on Twitter, whose South West Norfolk constituents use QEH. It was regarding the fact the best she could do was send a letter to the Health Secretary, suggesting she has not done enough, asking where were the Early Day Motions, Adjournment debates, written questions.
The main political parties are all represented in this election. Candidates are: Vicky Fairweather (Green Party), Richard Johnson (Labour), David Sayers (Liberal Democrats) and Sheila Young (Conservatives).
Meanwhile, Caroline Clarke, Norfolk’s returning officer is concerned that a strike by Royal Mail workers this week will affect postal votes. “We encourage everyone who is registered to cast their vote on Thursday. If you have a postal vote please remember that Royal Mail are expected to be on strike on Wednesday and Thursday. So post your ballot before collection time on Tuesday at the latest.”
Andrew Barrett, King’s Lynn borough council’s electoral services manager, said: “You can deliver your postal ballot to the borough council office anytime up until 10pm on polling day or take it to one of the three polling stations on polling day between 7am and 10pm.”
All should be known on Friday 2 December, presuming all the postal votes turn up!