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General election 2024: Labour candidate Terry Jermy believes he has what it takes to topple Liz Truss

South West Norfolk’s Labour candidate believes he has what it takes to topple Liz Truss and emerge victorious from the general election.

Terry Jermy believes several factors lean in his favour ahead of the vote on July 4, and says: “I think the change message is strong.”

Born and bred in Thetford, he knows the constituency well. His business is based in the area, and he has recently been named the vice chair of Breckland Council for the second year - having started out as a town councillor aged 22.

Terry Jermy, the Labour candidate for South West Norfolk. Picture: Mark Westley
Terry Jermy, the Labour candidate for South West Norfolk. Picture: Mark Westley

Local politics have always been of interest to him, but he only became interested on a national level following the Covid pandemic and the start of the cost of living crisis.

“I really felt as if there was a disconnect between the brilliant work that local government was doing and local communities were doing and what the Government was doing,” Mr Jermy tells the Lynn News.

“I wasn't getting the sense that our local MP was necessarily involved or aware, and that sort of frustration boiled over for me.

“I said ‘No, actually I'm going to stand myself and if nothing else, make the current MP work a lot harder for her seat’. So if I achieve nothing else, she's certainly been in South West Norfolk more.”

Mr Jermy was confirmed as Labour’s candidate for South West Norfolk in March this year.

He spent the following month helping to deliver introductory leaflets to every home in the constituency, and has now moved onto to a second one which will be handed out soon.

“It's such a vast area, and I'm really conscious that what might be an issue in Downham isn't an issue in Swaffham, for example,” he says.

“So I've just been getting to know people and finding out what matters to them.”

Mr Jermy says the key message he has taken away from these meetings with residents is that they are “disappointed in Liz Truss”.

He adds: “There's an awful lot of anger and frustration, and everywhere I go, people are saying the same thing. They're very disappointed in her.

“They don't see her enough. They don't feel like when they contact her, they get a good response or any response - and so there's a lot of frustration about that.”

With that in mind, Mr Jermy has a three-point plan heading into the general election.

The first point revolves around the NHS - he believes every aspect of it is “creaking and broken”. He wants to improve GP services, accessibility to dentists, adult social care, and mental health support.

His second aim is to boost jobs and pay in the area.

“In South West Norfolk, we are a very low wage economy - one of the the lowest wages in the UK - and I want to do what I can to support local businesses, improve pay and conditions, and to get a better mix of employers,” he says.

Thirdly, he hopes to focus on farming and the environment.

He stresses that this would be done by recognising the challenges of climate change and the effect it is having on farmers.

Mr Jermy believes now is a time ripe for change as he plots a path to Westminster to achieve these aims.

He says: “I hear it all the time, people say, ‘I've never voted Labour in my life, but I'm going to vote for you’.

“The local champion, I think, is really important - and I think we've missed out on that. Who is our voice in government? I don't think Liz Truss has been doing that.

“So I think my local connections are important - I understand how particularly local government and national government can work.”

The Labour candidate also hopes to improve education standards in the area, boosting exam results among youngsters.

The Lynn News asked Mr Jermy about the Labour Party’s plans to impose a 20% tax on private school fees, which principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe said has contributed to Downham Prep School announcing its impending closure.

He said he believes there is “a lot more” to the school’s situation than just those proposals, citing decreasing student numbers in recent years.

However, he did say that if elected, he will scrutinise that policy to ensure there is a fair transition period for private schools, giving them time to adjust.

Overall, he believes the national Labour Party has “changed”.

“I think they've been really focused,” he says.

“The Labour Party's really turned into an outward looking party saying, ‘This is who we are and this is what we've got to offer’.

Mr Jermy is a firm believer that MPs should not have second jobs. He has therefore pledged to give up his councillor roles if he is elected.

While he would be sad to do so, he says he cannot pass up on the opportunity to “make an impact on the whole constituency”.

“I think after 14 years of Liz Truss and 14 years of Conservative government, it's time for a change - and I hope people have seen who I am and what I'm campaigning on and will consider voting for me at the election,” he adds.

“Liz Truss personally is incredibly unpopular. She just does not have the personal vote - she does not have the support of the local community.

“I've not met anybody that says, ‘Yes, Liz Truss is doing a great job. I'm going to vote for her’.

“I genuinely believe that I am best placed to beat her. I think the Labour vote is quite strong and quite resilient in South West Norfolk, and we are campaigning more than we've ever campaigned.

“I wouldn't say likely - I definitely say possible for a number of reasons.”

As well as Ms Truss, Mr Jermy is up against a further seven candidates at the election.

They include Independent James Bagge, Lorraine Douglas of the Communist Party of Britain, Josie Ratcliffe from the Liberal Democrats, and Pallavi Devulapalli of the Greens.

The Heritage Party’s Gary Conway, Earl Elvis Of East Anglia from the Official Monster Raving Loony Party and Tobias McKenzie from Reform UK make up the list.

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