GE 2017 Polling Station
Temporary polling stations have been set up in school halls and council offices across the country

GE 2017 | All to play for

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Voting opened at 7am for the snap general election. People have until 10pm this evening to get to a polling station and vote for their preferred candidate for 650 parliamentary seats, including some marginal seats in the North West.

There are 75 constituencies in the North West, which as of the 2015 general election was dominated by Labour with 50 MPs, Conservatives with 22, Liberal Democrats with two, and one Independent.

Find out where your polling station is here: https://wheredoivote.co.uk/

Traditionally considered a Labour heartland, the region has some of the party’s safest seats, particularly around Liverpool and Merseyside. However, there are some that are still too close to call, and potential swing seats that have been hotly contested by both major parties in the election campaign.

Nationally, the Conservatives are expected to increase their majority, taking some of Labour’s traditional supporters and also capturing the hearts of UKIP voters with Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’ rhetoric. Polling predictions released just before voting opened this morning show between a seven and 12-point lead for the party over Labour, equating to at least 40% of the voting share.

However, Labour dramatically closed in on the Tories during election campaigning, reducing what started out as a 22-point lead, described by YouGov as “a remarkable turnaround”.

Pre-election polls are to be taken with a heavy pinch of salt though, after predictions missed the mark both in the 2015 election, and the Brexit referendum.

It remains to be seen whether Labour’s poll resurgence equates to more votes on the day. While leader Jeremy Corbyn is popular with younger voters, they are often less likely to go and vote, while older voters lean towards the Conservatives and have a higher turn-out record. Younger voters are also more likely to be put off by bad weather, such as today.

The Liberal Democrats will be hoping to regain ground lost in the 2015 election, in which they lost 49 seats, taking down their number of MPs to just nine.

The Labour party could experience some significant losses, and in the North West there are key seats which could indicate the fate of the party nationally, if snatched by the Tories.

Ones to watch:

  • City of Chester is Labour’s most marginal seat, gained from the Conservatives with 93 votes in 2015
  • Wirral West, taken by Labour from Conservative Esther McVey in 2015, but only by 417 votes
  • Bury North, which is held by the Tories with a narrow margin of 378 votes
  • Bolton West, scooped by Conservatives from Labour in 2015, by 801 votes
  • Barrow & Furness, held by Labour by less than 800 votes
  • Weaver Vale in Cheshire, a marginal seat for Conservatives
  • Lancaster & Fleetwood a Tory battleground, hoping to take from Labour
  • Bury South, Labour MP Ivan Lewis’s seat since 1997, but all to play for. Lewis’s majority of 4,900 seats would usually be considered safe, but in an area which has a large Jewish community, Lewis is expected to suffer from Labour’s toxic reputation when it comes to anti-semitism

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