A WHISKER separates the two main parties as, with just a fortnight until election day, the latest polls cannot predict a clear winner in Morecambe and Lunesdale.

With the General Election too close to call, what happens in Morecambe and Lunesdale could dictate who occupies Number 10 on May 8.

David Morris’s Conservative Party currently hold the seat but his already slim majority of 866 is looking increasingly vulnerable, especially if the latest Lord Ashcroft poll is to be believed.

The figures put Labour’s Amina Lone out in front by six points with 42 per cent of the predicted vote.

A victory on May 7 would make the single mother-of-four only the second ever Labour MP for the constituency since its conception in 1950 - Geraldine Smith previously held the seat between 1997 and 2010 before losing-out to Morris.

Morris was placed second with 36 per cent of the predicted vote, but Lord Ashcroft acknowledges there could be a 3.5 per cent margin of error and the poll was taken on a bank holiday weekend when 23 per cent of those asked refused to take part in the survey.

There are four other candidates standing for the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat and votes for anyone of them may well influence the outcome.

Ukip, represented by Morecambe bike shop owner Steve Ogden, is emerging as the third party, currently sitting on 12 per cent of the predicted vote, if Lord Ashcroft’s polling is to be believed.

Matt Severn, representing the Liberal Democrats, could turn out to be one of just a handful of Lib Dem candidates in England to finish third or fourth and still retain his deposit by not getting less than five per cent of the vote.

However, Mr Severn, who is also a councillor on South Lakeland District Council, is facing stiff competition from the Green Party candidate, Phil Chandler, who is also predicted to get five per cent of the General Election day vote.

Michael Dawson has registered to stand for the newly-founded Northern Party, set up in March 2015 in conjunction with the former Conservative MP for Blackpool Harold Elletson.

Dawson wants increased autonomy for the north of England and is hoping to secure much-needed investment for the region.

However, Dawson is currently sitting on just one per cent of the estimated vote according to the most recent poll.

Ultimately, the fate of the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat, and possibly the General Election, hinges on which of the two main parties loses the least votes to the four smaller ones.

The NHS is widely regarded as the major issue for voters in the 70,000 people strong constituency.

A recently released ‘Better Care Together Report’ from the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust stated that the region’s hospitals would not be sold, privatised or closed but it did say that some services could potentially be moved.

Vascular services were moved from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to Preston in the last year, for example, and the party that can offer voters the strongest guarantee that services will be retained locally stands a good chance of picking up a lot of votes.

Like many seaside towns, the post financial-crash recession hit Morecambe hard and locals are tired of cuts and austerity.

The party offering the most coherent investment and regeneration plan could collect votes from an electorate that is tired of seeing businesses move away and shops close.

Young voters are likely to be swayed by the party that offers 18-25 year olds the chance of a future in the area by providing them with a realistic chance of obtaining a living wage and affordable homes.

The result of this incredibly close election is expected to be announced at around 6.30am on May 8.

The count is scheduled to take place at the Salt Ayre Sports Centre in Lancaster.


Meet the candidates:

Phil Chandler, Green Party

Phil lives in Bare, Morecambe, with his wife Kathy and two children. He works as a Systems Administrator at Lancaster University, is a keen sailor with Morecambe Sailing Club and is involved in local amateur dramatics. “I am standing for the Green Party because I want to see an end to cuts to essential services, especially the NHS. I want to fight for Morecambe and Lunesdale to be a world centre in developing and manufacturing renewable energy technologies.”

Amina Lone, Labour
Amina, a mum-of-four, has worked in the voluntary sector for more than 20 years and is co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation which co-produces policy to combat poverty. “I have spent more than two years listening to and engaging with communities in Morecambe and Lunesdale. I am deeply committed to fighting social injustice and poverty through addressing structural barriers. I believe politics should be about shaping the kind of country we want to live in.” 

David Morris, Conservative
David lives in Caton and has two sons - Robert, 12, and Thomas, who is studying at Lancaster University. David left school at 15 and was a self-employed businessman before being elected to Parliament. “I am passionate about Morecambe and Lunesdale and have ferociously fought to put the area back on the map after the region was starved of investment for 13 years. I secured almost a billion pounds of investment and secured the M6 Link road after pestering the Minister every day.”

Matt Severn, Liberal Democrat
Matt, an insurance broker, grew up in Bolton-le-Sands and last year was elected a district councillor. He is married to Penny, a charity manager. He says he is standing in Morecambe and Lunesdale because he grew up in the constituency. 
“I want to bring positive Lib Dem policies of reform and investment to the area. I want to secure the investment to create more jobs and apprenticeships, build more affordable housing and provide the funding the local NHS, transport and education systems need.”

Steven Ogden, Ukip
Steven is married with a young son and has lived in Morecambe and Lunesdale all his life, currently living in Heysham. He runs his own business, Oggy’s Cycles, on Regent Road.”My interest in politics increased just after the last General Election, when I felt totally disillusioned with the main political parties, believing that they didn’t represent me in any way. 
“I had been following UKIP in the media and found it to be a party whose policies made sense.”

Michael Dawson, Northern Party
As leader of the Northern Party, Lancashire-born Michael says he is committed to creating a strong, autonomous north within the UK. “I believe the north needs a ‘devo-max’ government with tax-raising powers to redistribute power from London and make the UK stronger. I am fighting a pro-business, pro-environment campaign. If elected, I would ensure the constituency becomes a hub for business and receives the private-sector investment it deserves.”