Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A Look @: Lancashire (Part II)



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




Greg Pope




LAB Hold

Lancaster and Fleetwood

Ben Wallace




CON Hold

Morecambe and Lunesdale

Geraldine Smith




CON Gain


Gordon Prentice




CON Gain


Mark Hendrick




LAB Hold

Hyndburn was won in 2005 by Greg Pope who is standing down for 'family reasons'. Pope claimed for paintings and a 'shopping spree' in John Lewis. His replacement as Labour candidate is Graham Jones, a local councillor, whereas the Conservative candidate is Karen Buckley, a Fylde borough councillor. Hyndburn council is home to 18 Conservatives, 12 Labour councillors, 4 'Independents in Hyndburn', a series of grouped Independents, and one independent. This one will be very close, but with the current polls as they are I suspect this one will be a Labour hold.

Lancaster and Fleetwood is the successor of Lancaster and Wyre. Wyre was moved into the same constituency as Preston North and Lancaster was joined with the Fleetwood, to create this seat. Such a radical boundary shift was bound to make radical changes to the seats and Lancaster and Wyre MP Ben Wallace watched his actual majority of 4,171 turn into a notional majority of 4,056 for the Labour Party, essentially swinging towards Labour by 8,000 votes. Understandably Wallace decided his better chance (especially considering that he claimed the fourth highest expenses of any MP) was with the Tory supporting regions in Wyre and Preston North, which I shall be looking at in Part 3. Conservative candidate Eric Ollerenshaw is a former member of the Greater London Assembly, and a member of Hackney council. Such a history may lead to accusations of carpetbagging in Northern Lancaster however. The Labour candidate is Clive Grunshaw, the leader of the Labour group on the council. My feeling is that this one will be very close, but that the Conservatives may just hold this one.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP Geraldine Smith has been MP for the constituency since 1997. Smith's expenses rank her as the 37th highest claiming MP, something which is sure to work against her. Conservative candidate David Morris has previously campaigned for other seats, and is an experienced campaigner. This was once a safe Conservative seat, so there may be a bedrock of potential Conservative support waiting for him. Local elections appear dominated by the Conservative Party, and so with the additional issues I'm going to call this one as a Conservative Gain.

Pendle is the constituency of Gordon Prentice. Prentice is not a particularly loyal MP, having failed to endorse Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership and having called on him to resign. Prentice's expenses do not seem especially unusual, but his meagre notional majority of 2,180 puts him at serious risk. Both Conservative councillor Andrew Stevenson and Liberal Democrat Afzal Anwar are within shouting distance here. The Lib Dems need a 7% swing to win the seat, which is very possible with the current national situation. This now appears to be a Conservative/Liberal Democrat fight, but I think the Conservatives are likely to win out. Conservative Hold.

Preston is the only real safe seat on display here. MP Mark Hendrick, however, probably make it much less safe by over-claiming by seven thousand pounds. Nonetheless Waverley councillor Nerissa Warner-O'Neill will have to really pull off a trick to flip Mark Hendrick's 8,461 vote majority. Labour hold.


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