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Wakefield - the tipping point

Len Tingle | 17:21 UK time, Sunday, 11 April 2010

Len Tingle interviews Mary CreaghWhen the dust had cleared after the 2005 general election what would have been the odds of the Politics Show cameras choosing Wakefield for its first live "election special" five years later?

After all, the last Conservative MP for the city was George Brown Hillman and that was in 1932.

But voting trends since Labour came to power in 1997 have put Wakefield firmly on the Conservative's list of target seats.

Statistically, Wakefield has become Yorkshire's "tipping seat".

A Conservative win here would see David Cameron home and dry as the next Prime Minister with a small working majority.

If former Olympic rower Alex Story doesn't take the seat for the Torys then the chances are that we are heading for a hung parliament with no party in overall control.

That is because a win for the Conservatives in Wakefield could only be achieved with a swing to the party of slightly more than 6.9%.

If that level of extra support is achieved across the UK then the Conservatives are more than likely to take the 116 seats they require for a majority of just one in the new Commons.

It is going to be a tough task despite Labour's lead falling over the past three general elections in Wakefield.

In 1997 sitting Labour MP David Hinchliffe was re-elected with a majority of 14,604. In 2001 it was down to 7,954.

Mary Creagh took over as candidate in 2005 and won but the Conservatives knocked another two and a half thousand votes off Labour's majority.

Boundary changes since then appear to be helping the Labour cause.

A computer programme estimates the majority would have been 7,349 had the 2005 election been fought in today's re-drawn constituency.

Normally that would be seen as a reasonably safe cushion. But these are not normal times.

David Smith

So that's why I was there, microphone in hand, for a three-way live interview with Mary Creagh, Alex Story and the Liberal Democrat candidate David Smith on the first Sunday of the campaign.

Not surprisingly Labour and Conservatives claim to be winning the battle on the doorstep.

The Liberal Democrats say they will have a big influence on the result.

Have a look at the Politics Show for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire on the BBC's iPlayer to see how they got on.

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