Election 2015: Time for the east to decide

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Thinkstock

It's decision time. After the best part of six months of campaigning, manifesto launches, policy announcements and big name visits, there's little more that the parties can do. It's now up to people across the east to make up their minds.

"There are more undecideds this year than in 2010," Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia said.

"I think one of the problems is that people aren't just deciding who they want in their seat - they're also thinking about who they want to run the country and this year, with all this talk about alliances and coalitions, that's far more complicated.

"I expect the number of undecideds to tail-off rapidly over the next few days as people somehow or other make their decisions."

Third river crossing

We outlined the main issues facing the east in a previous blog and looking at where the "big names" have visited, it's clear which seats the parties care most about.

The Conservatives have love-bombed Waveney in Suffolk (their most marginal seat in the east - majority 769) sending not just the prime minister, but the chancellor, the transport secretary (twice) and just about every other member of the cabinet.

Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption Lake Lothing (photographed looking west) is crossed by the Bascule Bridge at the harbour end

The long standing issue about a third river crossing for Lowestoft has been elevated into a Conservative pledge to approve the plans (but not start the work) by the next budget.

Northampton North (Conservative majority 1,936), Milton Keynes South and Bedford (1,353) have also been the focus of frantic Conservative campaigning but oddly you might think, so has Colchester.

There, as we reported the other week, the Conservative Party believes it can overturn a Liberal Democrat majority of 7,000.

Labour targets

Labour has only two seats in the region - both of them safe - so instead it's been sending all of its big names to Bedford, Ipswich (Tory majority 2,079) and Stevenage (3,578).

Norwich has also received a number of visits, with a lot of attention on Norwich North (Tory majority 3,900), while Norwich South, where the Liberal Democrats have a majority of just 310 is regarded as more winnable.

Labour has set a lot of store by its doorstep conversations with voters. It revealed this week that it's had 340,000 such conversations in the east so far this year. It believes this may yet tip the vote in a number of marginal seats.

Nick Clegg paid one visit (on a Sunday) to Colchester, but other than that has been notable by his absence in the east.

Suggestions that party activists believe his staying away may improve their chances in Cambridge and Norwich South have been denied.

The end is nigh

UKIP and the Greens have clearly struggled against the might of the main parties.

Natalie Bennett has paid a couple of visits to Norwich and Cambridge, Nigel Farage (who is fighting to win a seat himself in Kent) addressed a public meeting in South Essex - but in most places they have had to leave it to their volunteers and candidates in individual seats to organise their own campaigns.

The one thing everyone is agreed on is that this campaign has been a long one.

Everyone is exhausted and there is a palpable sense of relief among all the parties that the finishing line is in sight. Now it's up to you.

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