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General Election seats to watch: Eastern England

Can Labour chip away at one of the Conservatives’ heartlands?

Peterborough cathedral (Joe Giddens/PA)
Peterborough cathedral (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Ian Jones, PA

The electoral map of Eastern England is almost entirely a solid wall of blue.

This is unlikely to change much on December 12 – if anything the wall could become even bluer – However, there are a handful of places where Labour could make small inroads.

Two examples are the constituencies of Thurrock and Norwich North. These are Tory-held marginal seats that would fall to Labour on a swing of less than 1%, putting them near the top of the party’s nationwide list of targets.

If Labour manages to do particularly well in the region, the seats of Watford and Stevenage might also be in play, although the swings needed here are larger (1.8% and 3.5% respectively).

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(PA Graphics)

Labour is also on the defensive in a number of constituencies in Eastern England. It is here that the electoral map of the region might stand more of a chance of changing colour – and in each case it will be from red to blue.

Ipswich, Bedford and Peterborough represent a trio of urban seats currently held by Labour but which could all slip from the party’s hands on December 12 if the Conservatives have performed well at the polls.

Ipswich and Bedford need tiny swings to switch from Labour to the Conservatives (around 0.8%), while in Peterborough the Tories will be hoping to jump from third place, where they finished in the by-election earlier this year, up to first.

There is the potential for another Tory gain in Eastern England in the shape of Norfolk North, held by the Liberal Democrats since 2001. Long-serving Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb is standing down at this election, making the seat potentially more vulnerable to a swing to Conservatives.

Finally, there is the constituency of Hertfordshire South West, where former Tory cabinet minister David Gauke is trying to hold his seat – but this time as an Independent rather than a Conservative.

Mr Gauke split from his party earlier this year over disagreements concerning Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy. He faces a tough challenge to retain his seat, not least because the Conservatives are running a candidate against him.

PA

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