As part of DevComms’ work in setting the political scene for Eastern Echo readers Jade Uko, associate director – east, describes the constituencies in one very contrasting county.

Bellwether Bedford and Kempston Constituency is a good place to start.

Labour’s most marginal seat in England, the Labour incumbent Mohammad Yasin is strongly predicted to win a third term. But Bedford and Kempston is a key marginal for the Conservatives whose candidate, Pinder Chauhan, a Northampton councillor, has run a long campaign.

Local campaign issues include East West Rail, private schools and NHS services. The Conservatives took the Mayoral seat last year, can they buck the poll trend again this time?

Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard is a new constituency currently represented by the Conservative Andrew Selous MP. Andrew faces strong competition from former Labour MEP Alex Mayer who looks set to take the new seat based on polling. National issues dominate the campaigns locally.

Andrew has over 20 years of experience as an MP and has good name recognition, but will this be enough to hold on with the new boundary changes and national swing?

Hitchin is yet another new constituency. Mostly comprising of Hertfordshire towns and villages, the seat also crosses over into Bedfordshire. Bim Afolami is the Conservative incumbent who faces a challenge from Alistair Strathern. Is the name familiar?

Alistair won a shock by-election victory in Mid-Beds last year but is hopping over to fight Hitchin and is predicted to score a double and to win this seat too. Development, potholes and airport expansion issues feature in local campaigning.

Luton North incumbent Sarah Owen is defending a majority of over 9,000 in what has been considered to be a safe Labour seat. However, Sarah resigned her frontbench position in support of calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and this is likely to be a big election issue in the town with smaller parties and independents likely to gain votes from Labour.

Over to Luton South and South Bedfordshire, which again, is considered safe for Labour’s Rachel Hopkins. Like Sarah, Rachel resigned her cabinet position over Gaza and this will also be a key election issue in this seat. The town suffers from high levels of deprivation and the cost of living is a key campaign issue for candidates alongside affordable housing.

In a glimmer of hope for the Conservatives, North Bedfordshire is predicted to be a hold for Richard Fuller who represents one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Local issues include East West Rail and leasehold reform.

Through the jungle to Mid Bedfordshire which Nadine Dorries very publicly vacated last year. As mentioned earlier, current Labour incumbent Alistair Strathern has crossed over to Hitchin although Labour is predicted to hold the seat, there is all to play for. Councillor Gareth Mackey is a notable Independent candidate and important as Central Bedfordshire Council is now Independent led.  Policing and Universal Studios are key local issues.

Labour are hoping to make gains from the national swing in Bedfordshire but also due to boundary changes and currently, the polls back this hope. There are as ever, factors which make an easy win for Labour uncertain.

A Labour majority in Bedfordshire would turn the former political profile on its head, having previously been considered solid blue territory for many of the seats.

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