David Cameron doesn’t really deserve to “win” next Thursday’s General Election, but the Conservatives will probably be the largest party and have first dibs at forming a government.
The Tory campaign has lurched from defending their economic record, to attacking Ed Miliband as a backstabber and latterly depicting Nicola Sturgeon as a female version of William Wallace set to pillage England. There have been a series of retail promises on things like the right to buy and inheritance tax. Some will impress voters but most will ask how the sums will add up. So a bit of a vision less mess really. However it is usually the economy that clinches it, and despite some dodgy figures this week, most people will probably want to give the Conservatives another term to sort things out. However this may be a very late decision by people, on polling day itself, not detected by the opinion polls. As they lift the stubby pencil, is it the devil we know or Miliband?
Ed Miliband has had a good campaign. No gaffs and an increasingly relaxed style combined with the theme of fairness which has been delivered well. However he is coming from a long way back in terms of public approval, people remember the Brown years and he is facing potential wipe out in Scotland. With those handicaps his route to Downing Street looks tortuous indeed. We have to go back to 1923 to find a party that didn’t have most MPs, forming a government. Miliband wouldn’t want to do a deal with the SNP that had just destroyed his party in Scotland and a pact with “the others” looks as incredible in 2015 as it did in 2010.
THE NORTHERN BATTLEGROUND.
Here are the seats to look out for in Downtown land from Leeds to Liverpool in order of their marginality.
Bolton West Lab maj 92: Should have been won by the Conservatives last time. Cameron tells us he only needs 23 seats for a majority. This is one of them.
Lancaster and Fleetwood Con maj 333: Labour’s No 1 target.
Wirral South Lab maj: The Tories held this seat up till 97 and Cameron needs this as part of his 23 for victory.
Morecambe and Lunesdale Con maj 866: Another must win Lancashire seat for Labour.
Weaver Vale Con maj 991: A Cheshire Labour target near George Osborne’s Tatton constituency.
Warrington South Con maj 1553: An intense campaign being waged here as Labour’s task gets harder.
Pudsey Con maj 1659: Labour should take this sort of seat on the outskirts of Leeds in a good year.
Burnley Lib Dem maj 1818: Very tough for the Lib Dems against Labour.
Manchester Withington Lib Dem maj 1894: The Lib Dems are pleading with voters not to make the city a one party Labour state at parliamentary and council level. They may be disappointed.
There are other Labour targets where the Tories have majorities over two thousand. They are Blackpool North, Bury North, Wirral West, Chester, Keithley, Pendle and Rossendale.
The Lib Dems are in a fierce battle with the Tories in Hazel grove and Cheadle and UKIP hope to land a sole North West victory in Heywood and Middleton.
CONSTITUENCY FOCUS: BOLTON WEST.
Julie Hilling’s victory here for Labour in 2010 did great damage to David Cameron’s stature in the eyes of many of his backbenchers. He was not a winner as John Major and Margaret Thatcher had been. The failure to secure an overall majority was because of Cameron’s inability to win seats like this.
Susan Williams, the former leader of Trafford Council, was a great candidate. It will be a tough task for the Conservative standard bearer this time, Chris Green, even though he only has to overturn a majority of 92 in this, the most middle class of the three Bolton seats.