BOLTON WEST

BOLTON West has long been considered a “bellwether” constituency.

Usually, the party which wins this seat forms a government.

There was only one exception to this rule in the last 40 years – when Labour’s Julie Hilling won in 2010 but the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed a coalition government.

But Conservative candidate Chris Green beat her in 2015 when his party increased its majority in parliament.

At the last general election, the incumbent candidate retained his seat, winning by 936 votes.

He beat the former Labour MP for the second time at the 2017 snap election.

She got a higher portion of the vote than in 2015, but Mr Green’s majority increased by 135.

The ex-MP, who succeeded former government minister Ruth Kelly when she won in 2010, will be standing as the Labour candidate in Bolton West again this year.

UKIP came third in 2017, narrowly beating the Lib Dem candidate Rebecca Forrest.

She will appear on the ballot paper for Bolton West for a second time in the marginal constituency which the Lib Dems will be campaigning in more than any other part of the borough.

Since the last general election, the Lib Dems have made gains in Westhoughton while Labour have lost council seats in Horwich and Blackrod.

The Brexit Party is also expected to stand in this seat, although the candidate it had previously announced, Paul Brierley, has now been selected to stand in Oldham East and Saddleworth instead.

Nigel Farage’s new party must replace Mr Brierley before nominations close on November 14 if it wants to contest this seat.

Liz Spencer is the Green Party candidate.

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BOLTON SOUTH EAST

Bolton South East had the highest Brexit vote in the borough at the 2016 referendum with 63 per cent of the constituency voting to leave the European Union.

Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, who campaigned to remain, has been the MP here since 2010 and she has enjoyed a comfortable majority which has increased at every election.

In 2017, she won by a whopping 13,126 votes which means there would have to be an electoral swing of nearly 20 per cent for Ms Qureshi to lose.

Despite this, Bolton South East has been highlighted as a “high risk” area because of the significant proportion of Leave voters in the constituency.

She could face a threat from the Brexit Party this year which has chosen Kearsley councillor Mark Cunningham to stand.

UKIP, who got 2,779 votes at the last election, will not have any candidates in Bolton this time around.

The Brexit Party can expect to gain all of these voters and will be banking on Ms Qureshi’s stance on Brexit for more votes.

Cllr Cunningham, who left UKIP earlier this year, is the last remaining councillor in Farnworth or Kearsley who is not a member of the new hyper-local party Farnworth and Kearsley First. The independent group have taken five seats from Labour in the two towns since the last general election.

Labour have also lost seats in Hulton ward where all three councillors are now Tories.

Whether these voters who left Labour locally will also vote differently in a general election remains to be seen.

This is not a target seat for the Conservatives who are yet to select a candidate.

The Lib Dem candidate will be Kevin Walsh who stood in Harper Green ward in May.

The Green Party candidate will be David Figgins who stood in Great Lever.

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BOLTON NORTH EAST

SIR David Crausby has been the MP in Bolton North East since the Labour landslide win in 1997 under Tony Blair, but his majority has gradually decreased over the years.

Despite Labour holding onto the seat for so long, the constituency is now considered to be a marginal one and a target for the Conservatives.

Around 58 per cent of Bolton North East constituents voted to leave the European Union in 2016 despite their MP supporting remain.

The following year, Sir David won with a majority of 3,797, beating the Tory candidate who gained 42 per cent of the vote at the snap general election.

But if Brexit is more of a factor in this election than it was in 2017, his comments earlier this year in support of another referendum could come back to bite him at the polls.

He beat the leader of the Conservative group in Bury, Cllr James Daly, for a second time in 2017, but this time Cllr Daly is standing in his home constituency of Bury North.

Instead, Mark Logan, a former diplomat, will be the Conservative candidate.

He will be campaigning to win the seat for the Conservatives for the first time since 1992.

Since the last election, the Conservatives gained two councillors in Breightmet and Labour lost another in the ward who later joined the Lib Dems.

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This adds to the string of safe council seats for the Conservatives in Bromley Cross, Bradshaw and Astley Bridge – although the Lib Dems have come close in the latter.

But at this general election, the Tories could lose votes to newcomers the Brexit Party.

Trevor Jones, the boss of Bolton-based Britannia Building Services, has been selected as the candidate for Nigel Farage’s new party which is fighting its first general election.

Warren Fox will be on the ballot paper for the Lib Dems again this year.

He got 2.9 per cent of the vote at the last general election and has since stood as a council candidate for Astley Bridge twice, narrowly losing out to the Conservatives on both occasions.

The Green Party candidate will be Trish Bolton who stood in Breightmet at the last council election in May when she scored less than five per cent.