Election 2017: Why do candidates in Norfolk with no hope of winning even stand?

Danielle Glavin on her farm

Danielle Glavin on her farm - Credit: Archant

During general election campaigns focus always falls on marginal constituencies.

Danielle Glavin, Labour's parliamentary candidate for South Norfolk. Pic: Labour Party.

Danielle Glavin, Labour's parliamentary candidate for South Norfolk. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

It is on the streets of these brutal political battlegrounds that even the smallest faux pas, the tiniest misstep can lead to ruin.

It is here where the personal and political often collide head-on as tempers flare and the mud starts to be flung.

There are some tight battles in Norfolk this time around. North Norfolk and Norwich South are two examples where every vote really will count.

But in many of the constituencies in this region there is a clear favourite. And even though Labour and the Liberal Democrats have gained some ground on Theresa May's Tories in recent polls it would take something of a miracle to overturn some of the colossal majorities.

Sarah Simpson, Labour candidate for Mid Norfolk. Pic: Labour Party.

Sarah Simpson, Labour candidate for Mid Norfolk. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

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So why do people even bother standing? What is the point of being a candidate in a constituency where the result is a foregone conclusion?

Many people who are hoping to get a seat in parliament are first asked to run in an impossible contest. The parties believe it tests there mettle for the trickier tussles to come. It also offers a chance for the hopeful to make mistakes that won't jeopardise a seat which the party top brassare keen to win, or cling on to.

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But for Labour pair Danielle Glavin and Sarah Simpson standing in this election has got nothing to do with making the right political career move.

Danielle Glavin is a television news reporter turned pig farmer – and she is looking to overturn a huge 20,493 majority.

But Labour's candidate for South Norfolk has not been parachuted in by the national party – she's got other reasons to attempt to eat away at incumbent Richard Bacon's 2015 vote haul.

'I was an active member of the National Union of Journalists,' the 39-year-old said. 'We would lobby MPs and MEPs about issues of importance to our members so I got to understand a bit of how it all worked.

'But really I had a relatively recent political awakening prompted by the impact the Tories had on many groups within our society.

'I fear that many people have been casta aside by austerity and I am a strong believer that there is another way to tackle these issues.'

Ms Glavin, who also keeps cattle, lambs and turkeys on her small holding in XXXXXXXX, says she is dedicated to Norfolk and won't be moving in search of a safe seat. 'I moved to Norfolk in 2014 and I love it – I love the countryside: running with my dog in the open and having the animals. I certainly do not want to leave. I am standing this time to represent this area and offer people an alternative.'

Ms Glavin is a good candidate and Labour will be pleased she is getting out, knocking on doors and selling their policies – but the odds of her winning are not just long they are impossible.

In Mid Norfolk another young labour candidate is looking to achieve a massive swing away from a Tory grandee. Sarah Simpson is the operations director of a engineering firm in Norwich. And it is her obsession with infrastructure and access to it for towns and villages across Norfolk that has driven her to stand.

'The Conservative majority is very big – I know how unlikely a victory is,' she said. 'But I really feel that it is important we have strength and diversity in opposition. It is vital to show that there are a significant number of people here who are not happy with the Tories and who do support an alternative.

'I would count success as mobilising the membership and persuading swing voters. We have to show that people are not happy with the way things are going.'

These tireless campaigners are unlikely to get close to the Conservative candidates. But while there is even the smallest chance, democracy is better off for their efforts.

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