The gloves are off as South Ribble is guaranteed a new Member of Parliament after today’s general election.
With Conservative MP Lorraine Fullbrook standing down after just one term, it’s up to four new candidates to fight for votes in the hope of being elected to represent the borough’s interests on the national stage.
The Tories, Labour party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP have each put someone forward – and it’s anyone’s game after Lord Ashcroft found South Ribble to be one of the country’s most Conservative-Labour marginals.
In April, he asked: ‘Thinking specifically about your own parliamentary constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand for election to Westminster, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for?”
Amazingly, it was a split vote, with 29 per cent saying they would vote Conservative, and 29 per cent intending to support the Labour candidate – while 13 per cent still hadn’t decided.
Ten per cent chose UKIP and six per cent were backing the Lib Dems.
Conservative candidate Seema Kennedy is the bookmaker’s favourite to win, with odds of 1/2.
Labour’s Veronica Bennett is next at 2/1, while UKIP’s David Gallagher stands at 66/1 and Sue McGuire, for the Liberal Democrats, is in with a chance of 200/1.
At the last general election in 2010, it was the end of a 13-year hold over South Ribble for the Labour party, when David Borrow was beaten by Lorraine Fullbrook.
All of the borough’s councillor seats are up for grabs this year too, meaning the make-up of South Ribble Council could change dramatically.
Last time, the Conservatives managed to maintain control of the borough with an overall majority after taking 33 of the 55 seats.
But Labour took control of 21 – an increase of 12 from 2007 when the Tories enjoyed a landslide victory.
This week, both parties are firmly in the running.
The Conservative party have put a candidate forward for every seat, while Labour putting up a fight with at least one candidate for every ward.