Look at any list of marginal parliamentary seats across Britain and you'll find Ipswich there somewhere.

Since 1970 it's changed hands between Labour and the Conservatives seven times - and no one who has looked at the opinion polls would rule out that becoming eight in 2024.

But it's not really a "Bellweather" seat - one that always reflects the government of the day. During the 18 years of Conservative administration between 1979 and 1997, there was a Tory MP in the town for only five.

Labour's Sandy Martin held it for just over two years between 2017 and 2019 - but clearly national political trends do play a part. 

Conservative Tom Hunt won his party's biggest-ever majority in Ipswich in 2019 - nearly 5,500 - which does give him something to defend.

However, the political map of the town has been shifting over the last 20 years - and especially in the five years since Mr Hunt was first elected.

Former Conservative strongholds of St Margaret's, St John's and Rushmere now return LibDem and Labour councillors.

While the Tories have made inroads into areas like Gainsborough and Sprites in some local elections which were previously seen as solid Labour.

Mr Hunt has become well-known beyond Ipswich for his robust Conservative views and he has had differences with the party leadership.

Richard Holden and Tom Hunt campaigning in Ipswich - but the two had a difference of opinion over the future of the neighrbouring seat.Richard Holden and Tom Hunt campaigning in Ipswich - but the two had a difference of opinion over the future of the neighrbouring seat. (Image: Paul Geater)

A visit by Party Chairman Richard Holden at the start of the campaign apparently didn't end well with a dispute about the future of the neighbouring seat of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

Labour's Jack Abbott is a former county councillor who has been active in Suffolk politics for the best part of a decade - he contested Central Suffolk and North Ipswich back in 2015.

He was chosen as Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Ipswich two years ago and has been working in the seat ever since, becoming a very familiar face on the Suffolk political scene.

In previous general elections we have become used to a procession of big-name politicians heading towards Ipswich to support the candidates.

That has not been the case this time. Mr Holden did join Mr Hunt - but the number of Tory "Big Beasts" out on tour has fallen because several have announced they are not standing while others are busy defending their own seats.

Similarly Mr Abbott is also being left to go his own way - Labour is mainly sending its best-known characters to seats with a larger majority than Ipswich, believing those seats could also be in play this time around.

Mr Abbott's team of supporters have been pounding the streets of Ipswich throughout the year and have stepped up their efforts since the election was called.

There are five other candidates in the election - but Ipswich usually tends to be a two-horse race between Labour and Conservative candidates.

Reform UK candidate Tony Love will be hoping for a good result in a strongly Brexit-supporting seat but Mr Hunt's firm views on immigration might help see off his challenge.

Liberal Democrat James Sandbach is an election veteran in Suffolk - he was his party's candidate for police and crime commissioner in May's election.

Adria Pittock is standing for the Green Party which is starting to make an impression on council elections in the borough - but which tends to be squeezed in parliamentary elections in Ipswich.

Terry Charles is standing for the Heritage Party while Freddie Sofar is the Communist Party candidate.

However once again Ipswich looks set to be another two-horse race between the Conservative and Labour parties with the others probably most focussed on trying to retain their deposits by securing 5% of the vote on July 4.