The build up to the 2015 General Election in Pendle began in earnest on Wednesday night with a visit from one of the country’s leading political figures.
Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London renowned for his flamboyant and colourful life style, was at the Alma Inn in Laneshaw Bridge to speak to over 150 party supporters and volunteers at the start of sitting MP Andrew Stephenson’s re-election campaign.
And Mr Johnson was confident that the Conservatives would retain the Pendle seat – and win an overall majority on May 7th.
As we reported last month, the latest opinion polls forecast that the Pendle election will be closely contested between Mr Stephenson and his Labour opponent, Azhar Ali, a former Pendle Council leader and the current Lancashire county councillor for Nelson South.
Mayor of Pendle Coun. Graham Roach will fight the seat for the Liberal Democrats, while other parties such as UKIP and the Greens have yet to announce if they will be fielding candidates.
When 1,000 voters were asked who they would vote for if the election was held tomorrow just before Christmas, Mr Ali had a two per cent advantage – but when they were asked specifically about Pendle and the candidates standing, the position was reversed with a three per cent lead for Mr Stephenson.
Mr Stephenson won the seat from Labour’s Gordon Prentice, who had been Pendle’s MP for 13 years, at the 2010 election with a majority of 3,585 amid a welter of criticism that money from Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft had been used to “buy” Pendle and other marginal constituencies.