Will Waveney pave the way in the General Election or will the unknown UKIP factor have an impact?
- Credit: Archant � 2007
Waveney is often considered a bellwether seat for general elections, with the party that wins here often going on to form the next government.
The seat was created in 1983 and was originally held by Conservative political heavyweight Jim Prior, employment minister under Margaret Thatcher who had held the previous Lowestoft constituency.
Fellow Conservative David Porter held the seat for 10 years from 1987 until Labour’s Bob Blizzard was swept into power during the party’s landslide of 1997.
That began a 13-year reign for the former Waveney District Council leader, who counts one of his major successes as getting a new bypass open in Lowestoft – although his efforts to get a third crossing for the town were frustrated.
However in that time Labour’s popularity fell, and the 12,093 majority he held in 1997 was eroded bit-by-bit until Conservative Peter Aldous got in with a majority of just 769 in 2010.
Mr Blizzard has been selected by Labour to try and win back his old seat but all sides admit it will be close – not least because of the unknown UKIP factor.
The party scored just 5.2 per cent in Waveney at the last general election but after the “political earthquake” nationally where it won its first MP and has made a breakthrough in council elections, Waveney UKIP candidate Simon Tobin says he is now fighting to win the seat.
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Whether UKIP triumphs or not, it means there are even fewer votes for the established parties to fight over.
Waveney is a varied constituency which contains the major seaside resort and population centre of Lowestoft in the east, with the smaller and more rural areas such as Beccles, and Bungay, as well as many villages.
See more Waveney election news here