It’s less than 100 days to go until the General Election, when voters across the UK will choose who’s going to run the country for the next five years.
Already, the battleground has been set, with a focus on the TV debates, and more importantly, who should appear. The fact that seven parties have been invited to these debates – Labour, Conservatives, Ukip, Liberal Democrats, Green, Plaid Cymru and the SNP – is a sign that this election is likely to be won by a coalition of several of these parties, rather than just one.
In all likelihood, the result of the vote won’t immediately show who has won the keys to Downing Street. As in 2010, the polls suggest no party will win enough seats outright to guarantee a win, with many voters who have disengaged with the mainstream parties looking to cast their vote elsewhere. However, unlike the last General Election, it won’t be the Liberal Democrats who will be the recipient of the majority of these “protest votes”. Ukip is expected to do very well, with experts predicting a gain of anything from around five to 50 seats.
Similarly, the SNP looks like it could steal all but a handful of Scottish seats from Labour, and the Greens could build on its one victory last time round.
Tyne and Wear will remain a Labour stronghold, and despite possible losses in votes, it is unlikely that come May 8, Labour won’t still have all 12 seats in the area.
In the chart below, you can see the results from 2010, as well as what happened in the South Shields byelection in 2013.
The closest contest in the area might be Newcastle north, where Labour got just over 40 per cent of the vote in 2010, their lowest in the area, with the Lib Dems behind on 33 per cent. Assuming the Liberals face the same catastrophic result that they have suffered since going into coalition with the Conservatives, then that vote share could go straight to Ukip. Add into that some stolen votes from Labour and the Tories, and the seat could potentially become a close run thing between Farage and Miliband’s parties.
So how powerful a force will Ukip be?
It’s difficult to tell. Certainly, the party should expect to receive more than the 2-3 per cent share it did in 2010 across Tyne and Wear. In last year’s European elections, Ukip won one of three seats in the North East, with an impressive share of 29 per cent, behind Labour on 36 per cent. In the last parliamentary vote in the area, the South Shields byelection in 2013, the party took just over 24 per cent of the vote, despite not putting forward a candidate in the 2010 election.
How will you be voting at the General Election? Let us know in the poll below: