Election 2015 England

General Election 2015: Life in the 'safe seat' of Bootle

The promenade, Crosby Beach, Seaforth Image copyright Bob Embleton
Image caption The Bootle constituency stands at the mouth of the River Mersey and includes Seaforth and Crosby

The election campaign is in full swing and with less than a month to go until polling day, the parties are fighting for our support. But what's it like to live in a "safe seat"?

As safe seats go, Bootle is a pretty sure bet for Labour.

Sitting north of Liverpool, on the mouth of the river Mersey, this seat runs deep into Crosby, which at one time was Conservative.

But Bootle is expected to stay red having secured the third largest Labour majority in 2010.

The incumbent Joe Benton stands down at the age of 81 after 15 years as the constituency's MP and waiting in the wings to replace him is the leader of Sefton Council, Peter Dowd.

He's not resting on his laurels though, as doesn't believe any seat is safe. Tell that to the other parties who know the best they can hope for is second place.

"There's no such thing as a safe seat and there's no room for any complacency," said Mr Dowd who says he's working to include the whole of the constituency.

"It's not just about Bootle - it's about people living in Litherland, Netherton, Orrell, Waterloo, Seaforth, Crosby and Ford".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall is hoping to come a "good second" in Bootle

And there is competition. UKIP have their deputy leader Paul Nuttall fighting for this seat but he is realistic about his chances.

"The reality is if I win in Bootle then Nigel Farage will be in number ten," he said.

We all know that can't happen - so is Nuttall wasting his time?

He says he "knows Bootle like the back of (his) hand" and is hoping to come a "good second", looking ahead to further gains in next year's local elections and ahead further to another parliamentary race in 2020.

"Bootle will break eventually but it will be a long and slow process and, at the age of 38, I've got a bit of time on my hands."

The Conservatives are also hoping to increase their share of the vote and also have their eyes set on second.

Jade Marsden from South Liverpool makes her parliamentary candidacy debut in Bootle where her dad is from and sees this as the start of her journey, hoping for selection again in 2020.

She is "passionate about increasing the vote" and, although there isn't much backing from the party (just a couple of thousand leaflets), she "wants people in Bootle to have more of a choice in who they can vote for".

She's focussing her efforts in the Victoria ward where turnout is traditionally higher.

But for people living there, does a safe seat mean a boring election campaign? Do voters there feel left out of what is happening in tighter constituencies close by?

Image copyright carl davies
Image caption A large proportion of the North West's freight runs through the Royal Seaforth container terminal in Bootle

Stuart Wilks Heeg is Head of Social Policy at the University of Liverpool and a Bootle constituent.

"It's a place where elections just don't happen - there is no discernible campaign".

Turnout in 2010 was just 57.8% - much lower than the national picture of 65.1%.

Wilks Heeg points out that the amount spent on campaigning is the lowest per elector of any constituency in the UK - the parties just don't want to waste their money.

He's only received one leaflet so far and expects Labour to hold on without much of a fight - although "they could lose some support to the Greens and UKIP".

Jimmy Inman is from Waterloo and has lived in the constituency all his life. He's very cynical and reckons Labour would win even if they "put a rosette on a rag doll".

He believes "all the action's centred on the 50 marginal seats that decide it."

So if you want to get a break from the general election, Bootle is the place to be.

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