ELECTION 2015: Race to power closest in years

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The Lancaster Guardian today launches its General Election coverage ahead of what experts are calling the closest-run battle for power in decades.

With most polls having the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck, the most likely outcome of the national vote on May 7 is another hung Parliament and a coalition, or maybe even a dreaded re-election.

In the event of no overall majority, the performance of parties such as UKIP, the Scottish National Party, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats will come into sharp focus, and the eyes of the country will be on the horse-trading of last-minute coalition deals behind-the-scenes as in 2010.

In such a tight race, every single seat counts, and few more so than in our two local constituencies, Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Both have sitting Tory MPs, Eric Ollerenshaw in Lancaster and David Morris in Morecambe.

Both are classed as ultra-marginal seats, Mr Ollerenshaw having triumphed in 2010 by just 333 votes, with Mr Morris winning by 866 votes. Many are predicting equally tight finishes in 2015, and the likely closeness of both races is a reason why both Conservative and Labour have sent their big guns to the district.

This week alone has seen Labour leader Ed Miliband, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Leader of the House of Commons William Hague all paying trips to our area.

The seats are likely to be won and lost on two major issues. The Tories are trumpeting the boosts to the local economy over the past five years, including the long-awaited arrival of the Heysham to M6 link road and other investment in the area.

Meanwhile Labour have centred their campaign on the recent problems with our local health service, particularly highlighting issues at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

There are also local elections on May 7, with Lancaster City Council and parish council seats up for grabs. Labour will be looking to retain control of the city council, their current coalition partners the Greens will hope to add to their current 10 seats, the Tories, Lib Dems and Independents will look to fight back after disappointment last time around and there is also the unknown quantity of how UKIP might perform.

There are a lot of questions going into this election and in the coming weeks, the Lancaster Guardian aims to provide the answers with comprehensive coverage of the issues, the candidates, the campaigning, the background and of course, the all-important results.