The constituency was created as Parliamentary Borough in the fourteenth century, returning two MPs to the House of Commons of England until 1707, then to the House of Commons of Great Britain until 1800, and from 1800 to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Before the Reform Act 1832, the franchise in Ipswich was in the hands of the Ipswich Corporation and the Freemen. The constituency's parliamentary representation was reduced to a single seat with one MP under the Representation of the People Act 1918. Prior to the 1983 general election, when north-western areas were transferred to the Central Suffolk constituency, the Parliamentary and Municipal/County Boroughs were the same.
Ipswich was the only seat won by a Labour candidate at the 2017 general election from a total of seven seats in Suffolk, the others being retained by Conservatives and more rural in comparison to Ipswich. Martin's 2017 election victory was one of thirty net gains made by the Labour Party. Ipswich is a marginal seat, having changed hands nine times since its creation as a single-member constituency in 1918.
The constituency includes Ipswich town centre and docks, with its mix of historic buildings and modern developments. Ipswich is a bustling town that serves as a centre for the rest of Suffolk which is predominantly rural and remote, and has the only serious concentration of Labour voters in the county, other than in Lowestoft.
Portman Road Football Ground to the West of the centre, and the new University to the East are both in the seat, as is the vast Chantry council estate to the South.
Ipswich's Conservative-leaning suburbs, such as Castle Hill, Westerfield and Kesgrave, extend beyond the constituency's boundaries – the northernmost wards are in the Suffolk Central constituency, and several strong Conservative areas are just outside the borough's tightly-drawn limits, making Ipswich a target seat for Labour.
The Ipswich constituency has generally been favourable to candidates from the Labour Party, being won by Labout at every postwar general election since the end of World War II; except 1970, February 1974, 1987, 2010 and 2015. Despite this, it was traditionally won by the party by fairly small margins; however, from 1997 until being gained by the Conservative Party in 2010, Labour won the contests with safer margins, and after the Conservatives increased their majority in 2015, Labour regained the seat in 2017.
Boundaries and boundary changes
1918–1950: The County Borough of Ipswich.
1950–1955: As prior but with redrawn boundaries.
1955–1983: As prior but with redrawn boundaries.
2010–present: The Borough of Ipswich wards of Alexandra, Bixley, Bridge, Gainsborough, Gipping, Holywells, Priory Heath, Rushmere, St John’s, St Margaret’s, Sprites, Stoke Park, and Westgate.
Following a revision of the Borough of Ipswich wards, the constituency gained a small area from Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
The present-day constituency consists of most of the Borough of Ipswich, with the exception of the Castle Hill, Whitehouse and Whitton wards.
Changes proposed for 2022
The Boundary Commission for England submitted their final proposals in respect of the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster Constituencies (the 2018 review) in September 2018. If these proposals are approved by Parliament they will reduce the total number of MPs from 650 to 600 and come into effect at the next general election, which is due to take place in May 2022 under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
Members of Parliament
Freemen belonging to the Ipswich Corporation was entitled to elect two burgesses to the Parliament of England from the fourteenth century which continued uninterrupted after the parliament united with Scotland and Ireland. only becoming a single member constituency in 1918.
During the period between 1835 and 1842 there were five elections and all were found to have been corrupt. After the 1835 election, Dundas and Kelly were unseated on the charge of bribery. After the 1837 election, Tufnell was unseated on a scrutiny. Gibson, who was elected in 1838, resigned. Cochrane was elected in 1839, after which a petition was presented complaining of gross bribery – it was not progressed because a general election was expected. After the 1841 election, Wason and Rennie were unseated, being declared guilty of bribery by their agents.
Following the death of Jamie Cann on 15 October 2001, a by-election was held on 22 November 2001.
- Change of vote share and swing calculated from the December 1910 party ticket vote.
General election 1914/15:
Another general election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;
- Unionist: John Ganzoni
- Liberal: Daniel Ford Goddard
- Independent Labour: Robert Jackson (not supported by Labour Party HQ)
- Caused by the 1885 election being declared void on account of bribery.
- Caused by Cobbold's death.
- Caused by Cobbold's death.
- Caused by the earlier by-election being declared void on petition, due to bribery by Cuffe's and Gladstone's agents, on 30 July 1842.
- Caused by the general election result being declared void on petition, due to bribery by Wason's and Ronnie's agents, on 25 April 1842