NOT since the era of the Lib-Lab pact in the 1970s has there been so much uncertainty and speculation over the outcome of a General Election.

The race is so tight, the influence of minor parties is now of far greater significance.

To many voters, that may not be a bad thing. Making ballot box choices that force major parties to coalesce or at least co-operate on key issues could be a good thing for democracy as policies have to be moderated.

This mixed national picture appears to be mirrored in the attitudes of voters in South Lakeland, judging by the example of five undecided voters the Gazette has been following for the past six weeks.

As the campaign intensifies, four of the five now say they are sure which way they will vote - and the interesting point is their preferences are spread over the Conservative, Labour, Ukip and Green parties. But the Lib Dems can also take comfort after the only one still undecided said she was leaning in their direction.

This may be not much more than an academic exercise in Westmorland and Lonsdale, where it will take a momentous change in local attitudes to overturn Tim Farron's majority on May 7.

But in neighbouring Morecambe and Lunesdale, which Tory David Morris took from Labour with a slender majority in 2010, the fight will more closely mirror the national electoral trend.

Although the political picture is confused, one thing is possible - voters who support minor parties could find their vote really counting.

Whatever the outcome, this campaign could arguably be remembered as the one which triggered the remoulding of British politics.

Recognising the heightened interest in this General Election, the Gazette held an election debate last Thursday, when an audience of 250 South Lakeland voters saw their five candidates in debating action as they tackled a series of questions on local issues.

All the questions and answers from the hustings event are being featured as part of our comprehensive online General Election coverage, which can be found on the Gazette's website -