30 days to go – a four way contest?

So far we not attracted any national attention here in North Norfolk. It is long way for London based journalists to come. Indeed I have convinced my four and three year old grandchildren that we are half way to Lithuania. Certainly a visit here will necessitate an overnight stay. This lack of attention is a shame because we are an interesting constituency and could well produce one of the surprise results of the night. We may be in for a recount.

Traditionally our patch was a prosperous area of large arable farms. This was a labour intensive activity with tens, and sometimes hundreds, of badly paid workers living and working together in close quarters. The Agricultural Workers’ Union was born here and this delivered a strong Labour vote. As a result North Norfolk produced a Labour MP until the 1970 General Election.   Subsequently capital-intensive farming saw the end of organised labour; we are too far for a comfortable commute to the town of Kings Lynn or city of Norwich. There are few jobs for young people beyond retail and the seasonal hospitality trade.

The area is cheaper than the Cotswolds and roughly the same distance from London. As a result it is most attractive for professional people who are seeking to retire in the country and for second homeowners. The latter will not vote locally but will find their letter boxes stuffed with election material when they return in the summer with their 4 by 4, dogs, extended family and boxes of groceries

Given the above profile the seat should be natural Tory territory. However the Liberal Democrats captured the seat from the Conservatives in 2001 after two previous attempts in which they set about squeezing the Labour vote. This time we have an excellent Labour candidate and most people of progressive views have turned their back on the LibDems. We have a well-known Ukip candidate who owns the local retail outlet in Holt and has acquired a high profile in the area over time. I can’t say I’m impressed by the Conservative candidate who seems somewhat out of her depth – but I would say that wouldn’t I? Add in a Green candidate and possibly a disaffected LibDem now running as an Independent and anything could happen. A space worth watching.

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