Lancashire contains sixteen seats, and therefore I've broken it up into three parts for the reader's sanity. Like most of the North East, Lancashire has been traditionally strong for the Labour Party, with patches of Conservative support in the rural parts of the county. However, at the 2009 County Council election the Conservatives won 51 seats (+18), Labour won 16 (-27), the Lib Dems gained 10 (+6), 3 (+1) independents were elected as were 2 Greens (+1), 1 BNP (+1) and 1 (+1) for the Idle Toad, a local community based party.
Blackpool North and Cleveley
Blackburn is held by Jack Straw, Justice Secretary. Despite only paying 50% council tax Straw claimed the full amount. Nonetheless, Straw is reputably a popular MP within the constituency and is popular nationally to boot. His high profile and solid majority are likely to assure him victory. Labour hold.
Blackpool North and Cleveley MP Joan Humble is standing down at this election. It may well be that she figured she may as well give up the ghost here because the Tories have to be favoured to win the seat! With only a 4.7% swing needed Conservative candidate Paul Maynard is well placed. Maynard is a former Conservative Central Office researcher and special advisor to Liam Fox who contested Vince Cable's constituency of Twickenham in 2005, so clearly the Conservatives expect to win the seat. Labour PPC Penny Martin is a former councillor from the area. I doubt Penny Martin's capability to defeat Maynard personally, who is no doubt well funded and resourced thanks to Lord Ashcroft, one thing that should be noted is that this constituency includes the ward that elected the BNP candidate in 2009, they may do well here and act as a spoiler on Labour. Conservative gain.
Blackpool South is a fair amount safer than the other Blackpool seat. Gordon Marsden was named by the Telegraph as an expenses 'saint'. An intellectual MP, Marsden has chaired more than one policy group and headed the Fabian Society. With a healthy majority, and a clean record on expenses, Marsden can look forward to re-election with confidence.
Burnley is held by Kitty Ussher. A former chief economist for Britain in Europe and special advisor to Patricia Hewitt, Ussher first gained the seat in 2005. Previously the seat had been held by Labour since 1983. Ussher is standing down at this election, a decision that is likely motivated by the revelation that she used £20,000 of expenses to pay for a house makeover, and that she 'flipped' her second home. Julie Cooper, a local councillor, is the Labour candidate for the seat. The Lib Dem candidate is Gordon Birtwhistle, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Burnley council. Throwing a slight spanner into the words of my projection is the 2005 presence of an independent, Harry Brooks, who was a former councillor who ran on a right-wing populist platform. Brooks achieved a full 14.8% of the vote. Brooks is not running again, and where his voters from 2005 go will likely decide the seat. However, my feeling is that having abandoned Labour in 2005 most of these voters are highly unlikely to then go straight back to them in the wake of a Labour MP caught up in the worst abuses of the expenses scandal. Combine this with the current composition of Burnley council (23 Lib Dems, 12 Labour, 6 Conservative and 4 BNP) and I am calling this one as a Liberal Democrat gain.
Chorley was one of Labour's gains from the Conservatives in 1997. MP Lindsay Hoyle had "modest" expenses, but managed to get himself embroiled in another scandal. It appears Hoyle was using taxpayers money to take trips abroad. However Hoyle's reason of fact-finding is not too hard to believe. According to the Mirror Hoyle is popular in his constituency, and with an almost 7,000 vote majority I think Hoyle will be just be fine on May 6th. Labour Hold.
Fylde is a Conservative safe seat, having been held by the Conservatives since its creation in 1918 (albeit with a 33 year period in which it was split into Fylde North and South). Jack claimed the least in expenses of any MP along the Fylde coast. I think this is a dead cert Conservative hold.