Labour parliamentary candidate for Norwich North says Jeremy Corbyn is like marmite
PUBLISHED: 17:10 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:29 08 May 2017
Labour's parliamentary candidate for Norwich North has described his national leader Jeremy Corbyn as being like marmite to voters.
Dr Chris Jones, a retired NHS consultant who has worked at St Andrew’s and Hellesdon hospitals, as well as Norwich prison, is standing for Labour in the June 8 election.
Dr Jones finished second to Conservative Keith Simpson when he stood in Broadland in 2015 and also missed out to Tory Lorne Green when he ran for Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner a year ago.
But he believes he can be successful in Norwich North - a constituency which has a long history of being Labour but was last in the party’s hands when Ian Gibson resigned in 2009. Conservative Chloe Smith has held the seat since.
Dr Jones said: “I think it’s one of those constituencies which has a swing majority. It tends to go with the party of government, but I think it is winnable and I am optimistic. “We were looking at how the votes went in the county council elections and I think we were about 990 votes behind the Conservatives, so I think that makes it a pretty marginal seat. We are going into this believing we can win it.”
UKIP have decided not to stand in Norwich North and South, urging supporters to “lend” their votes to the Conservatives.
Dr Jones, who was elected as a county councillor for Thorpe Hamlet last week, said that could work both ways. He said while some UKIP voters were disaffected Conservatives returning to the party, others were traditional Labour voters who would now go back to Labour.
He said that, while it was impossible to get away from the Brexit issue, there was a danger that could overshadow key issues such as cuts to public service, the NHS and social care.
He said: “I am not someone that is focused on a second referendum. Constantly revisiting what was decided last year is a bit of a distraction. We need to accept that. There’s a real risk that while everyone is distracted by that, we will take our eye off the ball of what is affecting people on a day to day basis.”
And on Labour’s chances under Jeremy Corbyn, he said: “The response on the doorsteps has been interesting. A lot of it is to do with the leadership and with Jeremy. It’s a real marmite thing.
“Some people love him and some people really don’t like him. But what’s interesting is that even those who don’t like him respect what he has done. They see him as principled, honest and straight forward.
“He doesn’t come across in a 15 second soundbite, but give him more time to develop and explain a policy or argument and he does that very well. “I think as this election campaign progresses, that will come to the fore and I’m hoping we will see more of that.”
Dr Jones said if he is elected come June 8, he would have to step down from his new role as a county councillor.
He said: “It would be a nice problem to have, but I don’t think it would be viable to do both.”
Other candidates confirmed for Norwich North are Chloe Smith (Conservative), Adrian Holmes (Green Party) and Hugh Lanham (Liberal Democrats).