Former Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has ‘unfinished business’

IN the early hours of May 7 2010, Bob Blizzard suddenly found himself out of a job.

For 13 years he had been Waveney's representative in the House of Commons, but he was to be one of the many casualties of a significant national turn in public opinion that saw Labour lose power.

Nearly a year later, the former Waveney MP is busy working in a wide range of paid and voluntary positions, and is eyeing the opportunity of standing for government again.

'I will be putting my hat in the ring again to try to become Labour MP candidate,' he said. 'I feel I have some unfinished business as there were things I wanted to do that haven't been done. A third crossing for Lowestoft and improved roads to the area have to be dealt with.'

Mr Blizzard first took the seat from Conservative David Porter in 1997, but after retaining his position in 2001 and 2005, he was ousted after a close race with Peter Aldous.

'Seeing the way the particular tide had been flowing I knew I could lose,' said Mr Blizzard. 'Having been following the national opinion polls and having spoken to people on the doorsteps I thought I might nick it, but sadly it wasn't to be and it was such an abrupt change in my whole life. One day an MP, the next unemployed.'

Across eastern England the Labour party struggled, with Great Yarmouth, Norwich South and Waveney all among those lost.

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Mr Blizzard saw his 2005 majority of 5,915 take a 6.8pc swing to the Conservatives as Peter Aldous won with a majority of 769.

'I felt like I was swimming against a very, very strong tide, and in the end the result actually relative to other areas was not bad at all,' he said.

Mr Blizzard had been leader at Waveney District Council since 1991 and a councillor since 1987. The defeat meant that his life was suddenly very different and the former English teacher describes last year as 'quite grim'.

He said: 'I was unemployed from the last election to the end of the year, but I did get an understanding of what faces so many people in this area, going into the job centre and signing on.'

One of the first tasks he did after the defeat was to create a booklet looking at why the party had performed so badly in the eastern region, and Mr Blizzard believes the new party leadership have taken note.

Since the new year he has returned to paid employment doing consultancy work for the offshore wind sector and working three days a week at the House of Commons doing research for MP Michael Connarty.

Mr Blizzard, 60, said: 'It keeps me very much in touch with what is happening politically and the rest of the time I am here in Waveney keeping in touch with what is going on.'

His voluntary positions include being a member of the board of governors of Lowestoft College, a board member of the new Sentinel Leisure Trust, honorary president of Lowestoft and District Mencap Society and chairman of the national organisation Jazz Services.

However despite all of this, he still hopes for a return to government to complete his unfinished business.

Although he did not manage to secure Lowestoft's third crossing he was able to secure funding for the south Lowestoft relief road. He describes this as one of his most memorable successes, along with his hands-on role in securing the funding for the Orbis Energy Centre, in Lowestoft.

Another particularly fond memory was when one man came to see him asking for a medal for his part in the Suez canal campaign in 1951–54.

Mr Blizzard said that the policy was not to give retrospective medals, however he was able to get this changed if the commander in chief's request for medals at the time was not properly considered. This helped many more receive medals for their efforts.

'It was so brilliant as it started with one chap coming to see me,' he said. 'It was something I felt emotional about as my dad was in D-Day and I once went back and stood there with him on the beach, and when you do that you understand what going to war is all about.'

War policy would be prove another significant moment for Mr Blizzard nationally as he voted against the Iraq war and as a result resigned from his position as Parliamentary Private Secretary. It would be the only time he voted against the government.

'I could not support them. It was a big moment and took a lot to stand up to Tony Blair and not vote for him, but I was right and history has proved it was right to vote against it,' he said.

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