Election 2015 England

General Election 2015: Merseyside's key constituencies

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Media captionBBC North West political editor Arif Ansari's guide to the general election

Ask anyone with a bit of political knowhow and they'll tell you that this is going to be one of the most exciting general elections in recent history.

If the polls are to be believed, the top two parties - the Conservatives and Labour - will have much to do if either is to secure a majority and form a government in their own right.

That's where the marginal constituencies come in and here on Merseyside we have a few key seats which could help swing the final result.

Image caption Employment Minister Esther McVey is the only Conservative MP on Merseyside - she represents Wirral West

Esther McVey is fighting to hold on to a majority of just under 2,500 votes for the Conservatives in Wirral West.

Some constituents there have told me they're turning to UKIP as the party that will listen to them on Europe and immigration while others are putting their mark against Labour in the hope that Ed Miliband will "save" the NHS and scrap what it calls the "bedroom tax".

Others are happy with how Esther McVey, employment minister in David Cameron's government, has represented them, describing her as a "good constituency MP".

Opinion polls carried out by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft in mid-March suggest the Tories still have much to do.

You just don't know who to believe, though, and that is why I am looking forward to covering this count on the night of 7 May.

Down the road, the sitting Labour MP for Wirral South, Alison McGovern, will be defending a majority of only 531 which she secured in 2010.

I'm told she has a big army of supporters knocking on doors to help her fight off the Conservatives' challenge.

What about the so-called safe seats?

Should we even bother talking about them if there appears to be little to no chance of them changing hands?

Across Merseyside, Labour holds several such constituencies - both St Helens North and St Helens South, all five in Liverpool, and Knowsley.

With the Greens riding historically high in the polls and UKIP also in bullish mood, Labour cannot be complacent.

I've spoken to lifelong Labour supporters who now feel the party doesn't represent them. They want an alternative, someone to listen to them and respond to their needs.

The seat the Greens are really hoping to make an impact in is Liverpool Riverside, where a third of the voters are students.

Party membership has increased fourfold over the last year but a recent ComRes poll doesn't read well for anyone hoping to see them - or UKIP for that matter - having much of a say after election day.

When it comes to UKIP, the party's deputy leader and candidate for Bootle, Paul Nuttall, says his party is playing the long game and looking ahead to making a big impact in 2020, satisfied to come second wherever they can on 7 May.

He will have a challenge on his hands in Bootle though - Labour won nearly two-thirds of the vote there in 2010.

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Image caption Will there be many swing voters on the Royal Birkdale links, which regularly stages The Open?

What about the Liberal Democrats' chances in our patch? Their sole MP here, John Pugh in Southport, has been in the post since 2001 and shored up his position in 2010.

People know who he is and seem to like him - but will his personal currency be enough to save him, given what the polls are suggesting about how his party will fare nationally?

Given their majority of more than 6,000, the Lib Dems will feel they should be able to hold this seaside town and prevent it from turning blue (or purple).

The biggest challenge for all of the candidates, though, is to make sure the conversations they have with their constituents during the campaign are translated into the only currency that matters - votes.

I'll be keeping you across the key issues throughout the next six weeks - please stay tuned to BBC Radio Merseyside and follow my updates on Twitter throughout. My guide to the region's election campaign can be found here.

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Media captionArif Ansari's guide on how to register for your vote

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