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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

Old lady not coming to rescue

The Bank of England won't save the Tories, and with a betting scandal now hammering the final nail in their coffin, Jim's blog includes the first part of a survey of NW seats.

Reducing inflation was one of the key promises of the Prime Minister when he came to office. The inflation rate has now dropped to the Bank of England target of 2%. Global forces are responsible for a lot of the decrease, but Rishi Sunak is entitled to point to his firm stance on doctors and train drivers pay claims, as a contributory factor. There is a justifiable fear that Labour will be more of a soft touch when the unions come for pay rises.

So, would the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street (The Bank of England) come to the rescue of the beleaguered PM and cut interest rates? No, partly because the rate of services inflation is still too high at 5.7%, and also because the Governor, Andrew Bailey thought it was best to keep his head down during a General Election. Although the Bank of England is independent, best not to give Rishi a boost with Rachel Reeves coming through the Treasury door.

So, no respite for the Conservatives whose crass errors are making this the worst Tory campaign in history. From the wet suit in Downing Street to the D Day blunder and now various Tories in the know about the election date, having a sly bet on it, they are heading for a thumping. I don’t think it will be as great as some polls are predicting. For instance, one projection has no Conservative MPs in the North West at all. However, it will be bad, and it is against this background that I start a two part alphabetical look at some of the individual seats in the region.

Altrincham and Sale West could well get its first Labour MP with Sir Graham Brady having retired. Ashton Under Lyne will return the Deputy Prime Minister. Barrow has alternated over the years, sometimes backing a Tory because of Labour’s equivocation on nuclear weapons. It will be back in the red fold this time.

Having had Frank Field as its representative for decades, Birkenhead is set for a second change since his retirement. Alison McGovern (previously Labour MP for the abolished Wirral South) successfully ousted leftwinger Mick Whitley.

With so many changes, its good to see that Graham Stringer will be contesting Blackley and Derek Twigg, the new seat of Widnes and Halewood.

Bolton and Bury are always interesting battlegrounds. What’s happened in Bolton North East shows the cynical collapse in morale of the Tory Party where the ex-MP Mark Logan says he’s voting Labour. Chris Green will lose Bolton West which will deprive the BBC Politics Show North West of one of the few Tory MPs who was prepared to appear. Another media friendly Tory is James Daly. He will lose Bury North (majority 105) but I suspect he will be back. He puts the Conservative case well in interview. In Bury South we have Christian Wakeford who stood in the Tory interest in 2019 before becoming the first to cross the floor earlier in the parliament.

Finally, this week to the Fylde coast and more Tory disarray. Mark Menzies has quit Fylde in colourful circumstances. That has been a Conservative banker but could fall to Labour. Just two months ago Blackpool South voted in a Labour MP. This result will be matched in Blackpool North where Paul Maynard will lose.

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