Election 2015 England

Health issues are expected to play a part in Staffordshire's general election

Camp outside Stafford Hospital
Image caption A camp set up outside the old Stafford Hospital, now known as the County Hospital. Some services have been transferred to the Royal Stoke.

Staffordshire is a battleground between Conservatives and Labour.

The map of Staffordshire after the 2010 election looked very blue, with an island of red in the north.

Labour held the three Stoke-on-Trent seats and Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency, while the Conservatives made gains to paint the rest of the county blue.

Fast forward five years, and both parties are targeting gains in the county.

The future of the NHS is one of the biggest issues in Stafford. The downgrade of County Hospital has led to a protest camp on the hospital's ground, and services relocated up the M6 at Royal Stoke. Jeremy Lefroy gained the seat for the Conservatives in 2010, but Labour's Kate Godfrey is fighting hard in the constituency. The National Health Party is also hoping to capitalise on local concern over the state of health services.

Image caption Labour has won every election in Stoke-on-Trent since 1950

Cannock Hospital has also been downgraded, and Aidan Burley is stepping down as the Conservative MP for Cannock Chase. It's a key seat for Labour, who lost control in 2010, and Ed Miliband's party know taking seats like this are crucial if they are to become the biggest party in Westminster.

The Conservatives made gains in Tamworth, Burton and the Staffordshire Moorlands five years ago and know retaining the seats is crucial.

Michael Fabricant defends a 17,000 majority for the Tories in Lichfield, and Sir Bill Cash looks equally secure in Stone. The Conservatives also look safe in South Staffordshire, which has benefited from the new Jaguar Land Rover factory on the i54 site, just north of Wolverhampton.

UKIP hopes to make inroads in Stoke-on-Trent, but all three of the city's constituencies are Labour strongholds. In fact, Labour has won every Westminster election in the city since 1950.

Tristram Hunt is standing in Stoke-on-Trent Central, while long-serving MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Joan Walley, steps down. The party hopes Ruth Smeeth, a former director of the anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate, will continue its domination of the seat.

The Conservatives are making loud noises in Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is a seat which has been held by Labour since 1922, when Josiah Wedgwood took the party whip. But Labour's Paul Farrelly is facing a challenge from Tony Cox, as he defends a majority of just over 1,500.

The Liberal Democrats don't have a strong record of electoral success in Staffordshire, while both UKIP and the Green Party have made some gains in local elections in recent years. But it will take a big swing for either party to challenge the Conservatives and Labour.

The Conservatives point to job creation at JCB and at the i54 site as successes of their economic policy, but Labour hope calls against the potential "privatisation" of the NHS in the county will earn the party votes.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites