In recent years, the General Election in the Lewes constituency – which includes Seaford – has been a two-horse race beteen the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
The seat, a former Tory stronghold, was won for the Lib Dems by Norman Baker in 1997 and been successfully defended by him in three General Elections since then.
He first fought the election for the Lib Dems in 1992 when he finished 12,175 votes behind the Conservative candidate Tim Rathbone.
But 18 years ago he managed a surprise narrow victory over Mr Rathbone, polling 21,250 votes to his rival’s 19,950, a majority of 1,300.
It ended more than a century of Tory domination.
The 2010 election saw a majority of 7,647 for Mr Baker, who polled 26,048 votes to the 18,401 cast for Jason Sugarman (Conservative).
The constituency of Lewes has existed since commoners were first summoned to Parliament in 1295, the Model Parliament. It has been continuously represented since that date.
Between 1874 and 1997, the constituency’s electorate in the elections returned only Conservative MPs.
When people go to the polls on Thursday, May 7, they will be voting for an MP for the next five years.
Lewes is now just one of two seats held by the Lib Dems in the South East. The other is Eastbourne where Stephen Lloyd, elected in 2010, is defending his 3,435 majority.
The local candidates are -
NORMAN BAKER (Lib Dem):
“I am delighted to be standing again for re-election as your local MP, a position I have held since 1997.
I have lived in the constituency, first at Beddingham and then in Lewes, since 1985 and have never stood anywhere
else. I think an MP should always live in his or her patch.
I see the role of MP as a multi-faceted one.
The most important one is to stand up for our area and help individual constituents with their problems and concerns, irrespective of their political views. After the election, an MP should be there for everyone. The second role is of course in London. In opposition or indeed on the back benches, that is holding the government to account. In government, where I served as a minister for four and a half years, it is about making a positive difference, enacting what you believe in, and indeed trying to block what you object to.
But whatever part of the job you are doing, I think it is vital to remain independent-minded, to be prepared to challenge received wisdom, even where it is unpopular to do so, and never to forget that your employers are not the government or the party, but the 63,000 or so voters who make up the Lewes constituency.”
MARIA CAULFIELD (Conservative):
“This year’s General Election is the most important in a generation.
The choice facing Britain couldn’t be clearer.
We can stick with the competence of a strong Conservative team that is working to a long-term economic plan or we can put that all at risk by allowing Labour’s Ed Miliband in to Number 10 with the help of the SNP.
Locally there is an important choice too.
As a local nurse – and someone who has lived in the area for more than 15
years – I’m standing because I am so frustrated with the lack of progress on some of the key local issues.
While the current MP has been talking about issues such as the A27 and regenerating Newhaven, since his election in 1997, in reality very little has happened.
For years we have been told that we could not upgrade the A27 or re-open the Lewes to Uckfield line but within 18 months of me lobbying Central Government money has been released for both projects.
If I can do in 18 months, what hasn’t happened in 18 years, think what I could do if elected as your MP.”
LLOYD RUSSELL-MOYLE (Labour):
“I was born and brought up in Lewes where I currently live with my family.
I received an excellent state education in Lewes, have run some small co-operative businesses and campaigned in Brussels, I returned to Lewes three years ago where I currently write about sustainable development.
I got fed up shouting at
the TV whilst the LibDems and Tories sold off our country. I thought it was time to stand up for what I believe in – a Britain that works for all, not just the few. People I speak to are turning away from tactical voting. In recent Lewes by-elections Labour came second and in the European election Labour was only 173 votes away from the LibDems in Lewes District.
Our part of Sussex has suffered from years of Tory/LibDem rule.
There are many issues we face but key concerns are the cost of living, housing, the crisis in our NHS and transport.
Labour has a plan to increase the minimum wage, cap energy bills, build more housing and limit rent increases. We would regulate buses to stop cuts and freeze train fares.
Finally we would repeal the privatization of the NHS whilst funding thousands of new doctors and nurses.”
ALFIE STIRLING (Green Party):
“Growing up in Lewes I have seen how tough it can be to get a job and a home.
I’ve paid extortionate private housing rents and I have worked on the minimum wage and in zero hours contracts.
I now work for a charity that leads nationally on improving the UK economy and getting it working for people. I look around our constituency and I see underfunded schools and hospitals dividing those who can afford quality services from those who cannot. I see young people unable to afford a home in their own town, businesses unable to get the loans they need to grow, and public sector workers having to cope with just a single pay rise in years.
I am standing for the Green Party because I want to contribute to a new type of politics.
I want to tackle inequality with:
1. A minimum Living Wage,
2. Invest in new sustainable industries to create decent jobs, and
3. Build new genuinely affordable housing paid for by scrapping tax reliefs for private landlords.
As voters we are forever gritting our teeth and going for the least bad, just to keep out the very worst. Perhaps now it is time for something different.”
RAY FINCH (UKIP):
“I entered politics because I believed that the old parties no longer represented anyone but themselves.
I joined UKIP because it is a party not just for the people but a party OF the people.
I never intended to become a politician. I was an engineer for a well-known telecoms company for around 20 years.
In that time I was a trades union member and I saw for myself just what ordinary people standing together could achieve.
The people of the UK can now stand together with UKIP and get our country back from the failed old parties and the EU.
I believe in fighting hard for the people of Britain. I believe in Britain.
I have worked hard all my life and do so now as one of your Members of the European Parliament.
But now I need your support to be your MP and fight and win for the people here in the only Parliament that should decide our future.
Last year the people of this constituency voted overwhelmingly for UKIP in the European elections.
We won 32 per cent of the vote in the Lewes district. The Conservatives were next with 24 per cent.
Together we can do it again.”