The fate of future Labour government is hinges on party’s performance in the North West which sends 75 MPs and Labour hold 47 of them, the Conservatives 22, and the Lib Dems 6.
The region witnessed the biggest shock in the poll history when UKIP narrowly missed the Heywood and Middleton. The ethnic population in the region can tilt the balance of many major seats. The North West Power House; NHS budget, High Speed Rail besides the fracking are the major issues haunting the electorate.
In 2012, when the former MP Tony Lloyd stood down to become a police and crime commissioner, the constituency went for a by-election bringing Ed Miliband’s close ally Lucy Powell in the forefront. She has since become Labour’s election campaign chief.
Manchester Central includes the commercial, retail and business core of the city. It includes Manchester University, Boddington’s brewery, the old Granada television studios and Chinatown, as well as newly developed apartment buildings.
This area is one of the one of the most ethnically diverse parts of the country, with significant Indian, Pakistani, West Indian and African communities.
Candidates for Manchester Central: Xingang Wang (Conservative); Lucy Powell (Labour); John Reid (Lib Dem); Myles Power (UKIP); Kieran Turner- Dave (Greens).
In Manchester Gorton, Labour’s Sir Gerald Kaufman has held this seat and its predecessor since 1970. With the retirement of Sir Peter Tapsell, he is set to become “Father of the House”.
During the last election, boundary changes moved parts of Ardwick and Moss Side out of the constituency, while Whalley Range, Gorton North, and Fallowfield are now completely within the seat’s boundaries.
Manchester Gorton also encompasses Fallowfield, Rusholme, and Levenshulme.
The Asian community here makes up over a quarter of the population.
Candidates for Manchester Gorton: Mo Afzal (Conservative); Gerald Kaufman (Labour); Dave Page (Lib Dem); Phil Eckersley (UKIP) and Laura Bannister (Greens).
However, the scene is slightly different in Manchester Withington. At the 2010 general election, Lib Dem John Leech increased his 2005 win over Labour.
The mainly residential seat includes the areas of Didsbury, Withington and Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The area is known for its café culture, boasting bars, bistros and bohemian shops.
Candidates for Manchester Withington: Rob Manning (Conservative); Jeff Smith (Labour); John Leech (Lib Dem), mark Davies (UKIP) and Lucy Bannister (Greens).
Council estates at Merseybank, Nell Lane and Old Moat provide a significant proportion of the seat’s total housing. The constituency has benefited from new transport links, with the Metrolink tram line connecting Chorlton to the city centre and new businesses at Salford Quays.
Manchester constituencies and Wards
There are five Parliamentary constituencies; three are made up entirely from local wards:
Manchester Central Constituency: Ancoats and Clayton, Ardwick, Bradford, City Centre, Hulme, Miles Platting and Newton Heath, Moss Side and Moston
Manchester Gorton Constituency: Fallowfield, Gorton North, Gorton South, Levenshulme, Longsight, Rusholme and Whalley Range
Manchester Withington Constituency: Burnage, Chorlton, Chorlton Park, Didsbury East, Didsbury West, Old Moat and Withington . Two constituencies include wards from other local Councils. Blackley and Broughton Constituency. Manchester City Council wards: Charlestown, Cheetham, Crumpsall, Harpurhey and Higher Blackley. Salford City Council wards: Broughton, Kersal and Wythenshawe & Sale East Constituency. Manchester City Council wards: Baguley, Brooklands (Manchester), Northenden, Sharston and Woodhouse Park.
Rochdale: One of the largest Asian population in the Greater Manchester. Labour’s Simon Danczuk won the seat in 2010, just 889 votes ahead of the Lib Dems. The National Front polled 4.9% of the vote. The city has lots of children and relatively few pensioners, according to the 2011 Census. The percentage of social housing is relatively large and the unemployment is high.
Heywood and Middleton: A key indicator of UKIP’s success in Labour strongholds will be their performance here – in last year’s by-election, Labour’s Liz McInnes only fended off a massive UKIP surge by 617 votes. John Bickley, the UKIP challenger, hopes to go one better in May – ultimately it will rest on a combination of the success of Farage’s air war and whether the ‘People’s Army’ have converted their vote last year into a lasting activist structure on the ground.
Bury North: David Chaytor was Bury North’s Labour MP from 1997 – but he stood down in 2010 following accusations over his parliamentary expenses. He was subsequently jailed for fraud.
In 2010, Conservative David Nuttall took the seat from Labour with 40.2% of the votes; Labour got 35.2%, Liberal Democrats 17% and BNP 4.1%. James Frith of Labour is challenging him.
Bury South: Situated to the north of Manchester is the urban seat of Bury South. It includes Manchester’s affluent northern suburbs, such as Prestwich, which has a large Jewish community. One in 10 of the Bury South’s population is Jewish – the fifth highest proportion of all the constituencies in England and Wales, according to ONS 2011 Census figures. In 2010, Ivan Lewis held the seat for Labour with 40.4% of the votes; Conservatives got 33.6%, Liberal Democrats 18.2% and BNP 3.6%. Daniel Critchlow is the Conservative candidate.
Manchester Withington: Currently held by Lib Dem MP John Leech with a 1,894 vote majority, it’s hard to see the seat staying yellow in May. Jeff Smith, the Labour candidate, is a former events organiser who has spent recent years as an Executive Member on Manchester City Council.
Morecambe and Lunesdale: David Morris won the seat for the Conservatives in 2010 with a slim majority of 866. Amina Lone is the Labour challenger.
Bolton West: Labour’s Julie Hilling won the seat in 2010 by 92 votes. Conservative’s Chris Green challenging her. This is one of the most affluent of the Bolton seats, 72.4% are homeowners – one in six of the population is a pensioner, according to ONS 2011 Census figures. At 71.7%, it has one of the higher proportions of people describing themselves as Christian. In 2010, Julie Hilling held the seat for Labour with 38.5% of the votes; Conservatives got 38.3%, Liberal Democrats 17.2% and UKIP 4%.
Wirral South: Alison McGovern won the seat with a majority of 531. Conservatives John Bell, a retired teacher and lecturer, is challenging her.
Chorley: A Conservative seat until 1997, Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle has seen his majority of almost 10,000 whittled down to 2,593 over the three elections that followed. Rob Loughenbury of the Conservative is challenging her.
Cheadle: Lost to the Lib Dems in 2001, Cheadle is a strong prospect for a Tory gain this year. Even after years of digging in by the Yellow Peril, 2010′s Cleggmania only saw them achieve a 3,272 vote majority. Mary Robinson, the Conservative candidate, is a stalwart of South Ribble Conservatives and runs a family business.
Blackpool North and Cleveleys: Another new constituency in 2010 where the Conservatives won despite a notional Labour majority, the seat is held by Paul Maynard with a majority of 2,150. Sam Rushworth, a University tutor, is the Labour challenger.
Burnley: A Lib Dem gain in 2010, Gordon Birtwhistle holds the seat with a majority of 1,818 votes – which Labour took as an affront, having previously held the seat since 1935. Julie Cooper is the Labour challenger.