General Election 2017: Which way will Stevenage vote in 2017? BBC's Newsnight talks to voters and shows how the town has always been an indicator of national trends
PUBLISHED: 10:55 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:09 17 May 2017
What are the chances of Labour winning Stevenage in the General Election?
That’s the scenario considered by BBC current affairs programme Newsnight which broadcast part of last night’s episode from Stevenage as a part of a feature on the General Election.
News crews and presenter David Grossman went to The Wine Society in Gunnels Wood Road to chat to voters.
They also filmed around the town centre and in the evening shot live links at the Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage Old Town.
The episode focused on ‘Battleground Britain’ – filming at three locations around the UK where voting patterns could give a strong indication of the national election result.
The constituency has always backed the winning party in the election ever since it was created in 1983.
When Barbara Follett was elected in 1997 it was a an indication that New Labour was on the rise.
This time around incumbent Tory MP Stephen McPartland is defending just shy of a 5,000 strong majority against Labour’s Sharon Taylor.
But there are so many competing national and local issues affecting the town this time around that the outcome is hard to predict.
The town voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit in last year’s EU referendum and this might seem to place it in the Conservative camp, but there is also the debate over who might do most to regenerate the dated town centre. The impact of cuts to council budgets affecting the less affluent areas of the town in particular must also play a part.
On the flip side, successful European businesses like Airbus and MBDA which are thriving in the town will be looking carefully at how Brexit may affect their futures in Europe.
Finally there is the issue of UKIP. As Newsnight pointed out, 6,800 Stevenage voters opted for the party last time around, but it is not at all clear where those voters will go this time.
To see the episode click here and fast forward to 30 minutes.
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