ELECTION 2015: The view across Yorkshire

Voters are heading to the polls across Yorkshire.
Voters are heading to the polls across Yorkshire.

Today, voters go to the polls in 54 seats across the region to choose their MP and a government.

In every seat, activists have spent weeks posting leaflets, hammering in road signs and knocking on doors.

And Yorkshire has been a key battleground with offices, factories and even a building site in the region becoming stages for nationally televised campaigning events.

But for many voters in the region, the sight of political leaders dashing around the country to win support will have felt far removed from their own experience.

Political leaders never spend time in safe seats at election time, but this campaign has been remarkable for the parties’ narrow focus.

In Yorkshire, Labour and the Conservatives have focused almost all of their efforts on changing minds in just nine seats –Keighley, Halifax, Colne Valley, Calder Valley, Pudsey, Elmet and Rothwell, Bradford West, Morley and Outwood and Dewsbury.

It is these seats where David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls and other frontbenchers have been deployed to sway voters.

And it is with these seats in mind that the parties have made sweeping promises from committing to high speed rail to giving Yorkshire more control over its own affairs.

For the Liberal Democrats, leader Nick Clegg has focused his Yorkshire campaigning efforts on holding his own Sheffield Hallam seat with the remainder of his time devoted to defending seats against Conservative and SNP challenges in the South West, Scotland and Greater Manchester.

With some voters who supported the Lib Dems in 2010 still disappointed about the party’s decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives, many of its candidates seeking re-election have campaigned on their personal records.

If Greg Mulholland and David Ward hang on to their Leeds North West and Bradford East seats respectively, it will be entirely down to their own efforts.

The UK Independence Party began the campaign with eyes on Rotherham and Wentworth and Dearne.

But with the party stretched trying to hold its existing Clacton and Rochester and Strood seats and win South Thanet for Nigel Farage, activists in South Yorkshire have not had the support they would have liked from national figures.

In a sign of how the political landscape has shifted over the last five years, constituencies that were hotly contested in 2010 have featured far less prominently this time round.

Labour held Hull North by just 641 votes from the Lib Dems in 2010 but it is considered a safe seat in 2015.

Similarly, in Sheffield Central, where Labour squeeked home with a 165 vote majority last time, only the Greens have expressed any hope of challenging the incumbent and a win for Natalie Bennett’s party would be considered a major upset.

Harrogate was a surprise loss for the Lib Dems five years ago when Phil, now Lord, Willis lost out to Andrew Jones but there is no suggestion the party has hopes of taking it back.

And other seats which have changed hands within the last 20 years are already considered out of reach by challenging parties.

Leeds North East, once a Conservative stronghold for more than 40 years, is now considered a safe seat for Labour having changed hands as recently as 1997.

As the polls close tonight, voters across Yorkshire will wait to see their local result but party campaign managers will judge their success on the outcome of just a handful of seats.