A deep pall of gloom swept over the Somerset town of Bridgwater as news filtered through that the most popular MP in the town’s history, Ian Liddell-Grainger, had decided to throw in the towel. Well, into the people’s faces, and head off to the new Constituency of Tiverton & Minehead, which he presumably see’s as safer. It may of course seem strange that ILG is such a popular person in this constituency but the stats speak for themselves as his majority has increased each time. 2001 (4,987) 2005 (8,469) 2010 (9,249) 2015 (14,583) 2017 (15,448) 2019 (24,439). Even former MP Tom King could never achieve such margins of victory and ranged from a peak of 15,000 in the 1979 election to a mere 2,000 in his final election of 1997. What will happen next? Who will the Tories find to replace him? We asked key Labour figures in the area for their views. Three of them couldn’t stop laughing, one exploded on the spot and had to be taken to hospital and the other one superglued himself to a fridge.
Bridgwater Town Council’s Community portfolio Cllr Liz Marsh (Bridgwater Victoria) who is in the process of opening a new ‘pantry’ for the people of Bridgwater in her ward, hard hit as it is by Tory austerity, said “Actually, this is massively exciting news for the new constituency of Bridgwater. A brand new, and bothered MP, for a brand-new constituency. A huge opportunity to finally have an MP who is present and interested in the area and the people rather than the absent, hopeless stranger we have had to date!”
Climate activist and Bridgwater Town Councillor Richard Morgan was equally welcoming of the news saying “it’s always good to see a tory go (although we barely saw him when he was here), but how much lower than a snake’s belly will his successor be?”
A ‘new’ MP for a ‘new’ constituency?
A new constituency? A new ‘boundary’? But what is all this ?
Somerset County Labour Leader Leigh Redman (Bridgwater North & Central) added “The new boundary will provide many opportunities for the new constituency. Bridgwater will have a chance to elect a new MP. I have said previously that Bridgwater and the surrounding area deserves an MP who represents them strongly and acts as their voice in Westminster. We are an amazing & diverse community whom I feel may not have had a fair sounding in recent years. Losing West Somerset and gaining Highbridge and Burnham offers a once in a generation chance for change. A good local candidate, with a long history in the area, who knows the people well, will make the area better for all. A general election cannot come quick enough to start the rebuild”.
Can Labour Win here?
So there’s a new constituency? Might this have had some influence in the Tory overlords decision?
Labour Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, Cllr Brian Smedley (Westover) thinks so “See the thing is that the new ‘Bridgwater’ constituency which will come in this year contracts the boundary around the town and we lose the Tory shirelands of West Somerset. Liddell-Grainger will have been thinking for sometime which is the safest seat for him and when he worked it out it’s ‘Bye Bye Bridgwater’. Here in this Labour town we’ve been the majority party for most of the last 70 years and from Sedgemoor to Somerset to the Bridgwater & West Somerset Constituency it’s been our doom to be swamped by the outlying Tory areas. Now we can finally make a difference and win this seat. The way the polls are going at the moment we’ll walk it but we know we need the right candidate, the right campaign and the right moment and of course it will depend on who the Tories choose to replace ILG and exactly how irrelevant the LibDems are at the time…and of course people remembering how it was them that put the Tories in power back in 2010.”
Which Tory will pick up the poisoned Challice?
But who exactly might the Tories choose?
It’s hard to guess of course but Labour to Independent to Tory defector Diogo Rodrigues is having his photo in the paper a lot recently including lots of pictures with national Tory celebs like Party Vice Chairman Lee ‘hang ‘em high’ Anderson, who Diogo describes as a ‘straight talking plain speaking bloke’ – Sadly, Anderson recently not only called for restoration of capital punishment but is currently being sued over bribery allegations. But, Diogo as Tory candidate might be a bad move anyway as he couldn’t even hold on to his town council seat last year and people generally don’t have such a high regard for turncoats.
Or there’s the keen but slightly quiet Cllr Suria Aujla, who has stood for MP up in Birmingham and Bristol, with no success, but is certainly on their approved panel. Maybe someone who could ‘do a Liddell-Grainger’ and just ‘be a tory’ but ‘keep a low profile’ might be their answer?
Or what about sitting MP for the current Burnham & Highbridge constituency James Heappey? Oddly, his most recent achievement has been to block the joint SDC and Mendip levelling up bid. But of course if they’re looking for an otherwise ‘doesn’t do much but basically a Tory’ option lets throw him into the pot too.
Or maybe there’s room for a comeback from disgraced Tory MP farmer Neil Parish, who lives just outside of Bridgwater but who fell foul of some allegedly totally innocent tractor porn viewing….. In the House of Commons.
Bridgwater deserves better
Whatever happens ILG will be sorely missed.
And in fact sorely welcomed by West Somerset Tories who fell out with him a few years back after he was caught out allegedly paint-shopping out of a photo the West Somerset Tory leader.
And equally unwelcomed by the Fothergill Loyalist Tories who he has spent many a lifetime fighting against despite being on his own side..
Either way, if what the Tiverton & Minehead Constituency want is someone who quite happily falls asleep in the House of commons rather than watches tractor porn in it, then here comes their guy!