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ELECTION 2017: Conservatives look to boost already big majorities in South West Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds, and West Suffolk

By Mike Scialom

Elizabeth Truss.
Elizabeth Truss.

Arguably three of the safest Conservative seats fall in the Diss Express patch – Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, and South West Norfolk.

With the Liberal Democrat vote collapsing nationally in the 2015 election, these were constituencies where already big majorities were further increased.

Jo Churchill
Jo Churchill

The South West Norfolk seat, which covers Garboldisham, the Lophams, East Harling and Banham, has been held by the Conservatives since 1964.

Last time out in 2015 Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, increased her majority to 13,861 after securing 50.9 per cent of the vote. Paul Smyth, UKIP, was second, boosted by a 17 per cent increase of the vote compared to 2010, with Labour’s Peter Smith coming third.

The Liberal Democrats fell from second to fourth.

This year, Ms Truss will be up against Stephen Gordon (Lib Dems), Peter Smith (Labour), and David Williams (UKIP).

Matthew Hancock
Matthew Hancock

Bury St Edmunds, which includes Rickinghall, Botesdale, Mellis, Wattisfield and Hinderclay, has been Conservative-held since 1885.

In 1997, Labour came within just 369 votes of turning the seat red – but 20 years on, a large Conservative majority has returned.

Jo Churchill was victorious in 2015, replacing David Ruffley, who declared he would not be standing in the election.

She won 31,815 of the votes, increasing the share by 6.1 per cent to 53.6 per cent.

David Chappell, of the Liberal Democrats, saw his vote share drop 20.4 per cent on 2010, moving them from second to last place in the seat.

It allowed Labour to move into second, with 10,514 votes. UKIP were third.

Also contesting the seat on June 8 will be Liam Byrne (Independent), Bill Edwards (Labour), Helen Geake (Green Party), and Helen Korfanty (Liberal Democrats).

And in West Suffolk, the Conservatives’ Matthew Hancock will be seeking re-election for a third term.

The seat, covering Barningham, Market Weston and Hepworth and created in 1997, had previously been held by Conservative Richard Spring until 2010. In 2015, Mr Hancock won 52.2 per cent of the vote. UKIP were second, with 10,700 votes, an increase of 15.3 per cent, while Labour came third on 8,604. The Liberal Democrats fell from second to fourth, losing 18.4 per cent of the vote.

He faces competition from Donald Allwright (Green Party), Julian Flood (UKIP), Michael Jefferys (Labour) and Elfreda Tealby-Watson (Lib Dems).

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