Like many rural constituencies in the county, South Suffolk looks like perfect safe Conservative territory in general elections - and that has been pretty much the case since the war.

Stretching from Shotley Gate and Constable country in the east to Gainsborough's Sudbury in the west, this is a part of the world full of artistic references - for a time in the 1990s it was known as Lovejoy Country after the popular TV antiques dealer!

The Conservatives have never been seriously threatened here and Defence Minister James Cartlidge is contesting his fourth election here since entering Parliament in 2015.

James Cartlidge campaigning with supporters in Hadleigh.James Cartlidge campaigning with supporters in Hadleigh. (Image: South Suffolk Conservatives)

In 2019 he had a majority of nearly 23,000 over Labour - but in the noughties the Liberal Democrats managed strong second places in the seat.

There have been only minor boundary changes to this seat - Clare and Cavendish in the west have gone and it now shares a common border with Babergh council.

Sudbury is by far the largest town - but the seat is increasingly dominated by new developments on the outskirts of Ipswich. That is making it an increasingly suburban constituency rather than one dominated by market towns.

Pollsters see this as one the safest seats in the country for the Conservatives - while some have suggested other rural seats in Suffolk could be vulnerable this has stayed blue on the electoral map.

The make-up of Babergh council has never been a great guide to the likely result in this seat.

There have always been a significant number of independents on the council, and alongside LibDems, Conservatives, and the occasional Labour member it has always been seen as a "non-political" council.

That changed a bit last year when the Greens arrived in force to be the largest party on Babergh.

They are now at the head of a three-party coalition in a complex agreement with LibDem and Independent councillors that sees the leadership change every year but the political make up at the council has always given few clues to the general election result here.

Key issues in the constituency including housing - and the difficulties faced by young people trying to find their first home, transport links, and particularly in the Sudbury area the decline of some traditional industries.

Mr Cartlidge has also been leading calls for a rethink of National Grid plans to put up new lines of pylons in the area.

He said: "It has been a huge honour to serve as your Member of Parliament since 2015, but I know that the past few years have been tough - we had a pandemic, forcing up NHS waiting lists, and then war in Europe which led to a surge in the cost of living.

"The good news: after a lot of effort, we have got inflation back to normal, and I want to use that as a launchpad to reboot our economy and public services."

Emma with supporters in Sudbury.Emma with supporters in Sudbury. (Image: South Suffolk Labour Party)

Pollsters expect Labour will be the nearest challenger - and the party's candidate Emma Bishton knows the constituency well.

This is the third time she has stood for Labour in the seat - she contested it in both 2010 and 2017 and has been travelling around the constituency meeting voters.

She has worked in the NHS and local authorities and is currently a community musician working in state schools across the area.

She said in her election address: "In South Suffolk, Labour has been a clear second to the Tories in the last three general elections. It’s very clear that the only way to defeat the Conservatives here is to vote Labour."

In the early years of the century the Liberal Democrats had hoped to make a breakthrough here - but lack of resources meant that never happened. 

Tom Bartleet is hoping to capitalise on its electoral success in Babergh - but this is not seen as a target seat by the party nationally.

Suffolk County Councillor Jessie Carter is hoping to take the seat for the Green Party - but her party is concentrating their efforts on Waveney Valley in this part of the world.

And Bev England is standing for Reform UK in the constituency.