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Who is on Norfolk's general election hot seats?

PUBLISHED: 17:56 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:45 31 October 2019

Who could lose their seat in Norfolk in the general election? Pictured is the Norwich South election count getting under way in 2017. 
Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Who could lose their seat in Norfolk in the general election? Pictured is the Norwich South election count getting under way in 2017. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Will the political map be redrawn on December 12? Or is it more of the same?

In normal circumstances two years would have little impact on a region's voting intention.

But these times are far from normal.

You might believe that in 2017 Norfolk and Waveney did not throw up many surprises. But look a bit closer and there were plenty of shocks.

Going into the snap election the Conservatives were riding high. Polling for the East of England suggested both Labour's Clive Lewis, in Norwich South, and North Norfolk Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb were doomed.

Then Theresa May dropped her infamous manifesto - and the ball.

MORE: How to make sure you don't miss out on voting in general election

Such was the hubris of the Conservatives in the early days of the 2017 campaign they believed they could serve up a grim kitchen sink drama rather than a manifesto - and still cruise to victory.

It was received so badly it cost numerous people - MPs and party staff - their jobs. A Boris Johnson manifesto will be very different.

One of the most interesting seats two years ago was North Norfolk - and that is set to be the case again this time around.

Whether you are a Lib Dem supporter or not, few would question departing MP Norman Lamb's commitment. He first stood in the constituency in 1992 losing by a comfortable 12,545 votes - next time around he had cut into the Tory majority and missed out by just 1,293.

And finally in 2001 he managed a slim majority himself. By 2010 that lead reached just shy of 12,000 votes.

The Lib Dems took a hit while in coalition after that election and amid the fall out of Brexit few thought Mr Lamb could win. The fact he did was perhaps the biggest shock on result night in Norfolk - and perhaps the biggest achievement of Mr Lamb's political career.

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The Tories threw everything they had at North Norfolk. They chose a candidate - James Wild - with connections to the patch but a strong background working in Westminster and even ordered other East Anglian MPs to dash up to North Norfolk in the days ahead of the vote to help get him over the line. That was a decision that did not go down well with some of the MPs.

Against all odds Mr Lamb triumphed - but can the Lib Dems hold the seat without him?

Believing that someone with a deep local connection will fair better than a parachute candidate, the Tories have gone for councillor Duncan Baker. The Lib Dems have also chosen a councillor to try and take the step up - Karen Ward.

It is set to be an almighty tussle - and Brexit will be a huge issue. Mr Lamb was in a very tricky position in North Norfolk representing a Leave constituency as a strong Remainer.

A lot of voters gave Mr Lamb the benefit of the doubt because of the constituency work behind him. Will that goodwill be passed on to Ms Ward?

Another fascinating battle will be Norwich North where incumbent Chloe Smith had her majority slashed from almost 5,000 to just 500 last time out.

Ms Smith was a victim of a dreadful national campaign in 2017 - she was not helped by Theresa May. And her Labour opponent Christopher Jones almost rode the wave of support for Jeremy Corbyn all the way to Westminster.

The performance of the national campaign could prove key again. Although Boris Johnson will want to stay focussed on Brexit, Ms Smith will know she needs a broader brush.

So expect an onslaught of Labour big hitters door knocking in the north of the Fine City - and don't rule out more than one visit from either or both party leaders.

We will also have a new MP in Broadland as Keith Simpson steps down - don't expect anything but a Tory victory here though. There has been a few whispers around Westminster in the past few days that could lighten up this battle however ... Is Mr Johnson on the look out for a safer seat than Uxbridge and South Ruislip where he only has a 5,000 vote majority?

Mr Simpson has built a plump 15,000 lead over Labour in what appears to be - it is a new constituency that has only been included in elections since 2010 - a very safe seat.

But every Norfolk MP will harbour some nervousness going into the campaign - even those with super safe seats. Politics has become hugely unpredictable and the rise of social media means has quickened shifts in opinion to lightning pace.

One wrong step - regionally by an MP or even more worrying nationally by their leader - could scupper all their hard work and dump them out of office.

When the general public are your boss anything can happen.

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