Friday, 30 April 2010

A Look @: Northumberland

Northumberland is fairly split politically. The county has four Parliamentary seats of which Labour hold 2 and the other main parties share the others. The council paints a similar picture as the 2008 elections to the newly formed unitary authority resulted in No Overall Control. The Liberal Democrats won the most seats with 26 of the 67 and currently run the council as a minority administration. Labour and the Conservatives hold 17 seats each.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Blyth Valley

Ronnie Campbell




LAB Hold


Denis Murphy




LAB Hold


Peter Atkinson





CON Hold


Alan Beith




LD Hold


Blyth Valley (and Blyth before it) has returned a Labour MP ever since the seat's creation in 1950. Ronnie Campbell became its fourth representative in 1987 and it will be tough to shift him. It will be Jeffery Reid's task to try and secure a historic gain for the Liberal Democrats and although it will difficult he has a few things on his side. The council seats in this constituency are quite evenly split and Campbell didn't get through the expenses scandal unscathed. The MP bought furniture for his London flat but to his credit almost immediately owned up and agreed to repay the money. I think his response, and the size of his majority, will keep him in Parliament for another term; Labour Hold.

Wansbeck is another seat that Labour have held since its creation, this time in 1983. The current MP Denis Murphy is standing down after 13 years in Westminster. He did admit that the expenses scandal was a factor in his decision, but not necessarily his role in it. Although Murphey was asked to pay back almost £2000 over mortgage claims, he cited the 'press attack' on some of his colleagues as the key issue. This has left Ian Lavery with the job of holding this safe seat for Labour. Councillor Simon Reed will be hoping the Clegg bounce will help him win a seat in Parliament for the Lib Dems on his third run. But I think there is slightly too much ground to make up this year; Labour Hold.

The only period since the World War II the Conservatives didn't hold Hexham was because this constituency was providing the House with its Speaker. Peter Atkinson was first elected here in 1992 but he's decided to call it a day. At 65 he has stood aside to let someone with 'fresh ideas and enthusiasm' take over. The Tories will be hoping this hasn't gifted their opponents a great chance to take an open seat though. Guy Opperman will be trying to defend this to secure a seat in Westminster on his third attempt. He's up against Antoine Tinnion for Labour and Andrew Duffield for the Lib Dems, who is contesting Hexham for the second time. Duffield has the better chance with the Liberal Democrats seemingly doing even better in the North East than they are elsewhere. They'll almost certainly leapfrog Labour here, and if they can squeeze the red vote in future elections they'd be looking very strong, but I don't think the Conservatives will lose this next week; Tory Hold.

Sir Alan Beith is one of the safest Liberal Democrats in the country and he will again be contesting his Berwick-upon-Tweed seat. Beith was first elected in a 1973 by-election and as there isn't much to suggest he'll lose this year. Beith will clock up forty years in Parliament if he wins and the next term goes the distance. I think the former is almost certain; Lib Dem Hold.


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