General Election campaign hots up

A General Election must be held within the next four months - and the Evening Star is planning its biggest and best coverage both in print and on-line.

SUFFOLK: A General Election must be held within the next four months - and the Evening Star is planning its biggest and best coverage both in print and on-line.

Gordon Brown could wait until the last possible date, June 3, but most speculation is concentrated on Thursday, May 6, when there is also polling for some local councils.

The Star will be concentrating on five of the seven Suffolk constituencies - Ipswich, Ipswich North and Central Suffolk, Suffolk Coastal, South Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds.

We'll have latest news from the candidates as well as the national campaigning as the parties gear themselves up for an election which could be the tightest since 1992.

We shall be concentrating on issues which concern the voters - the future of Sure Start, the rural cost of living, the economy, and immigration.

Ipswich will be one of most keenly contested seats in Britain.

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Although the Conservatives do not have to win Ipswich to form a government, if they do win the constituency David Cameron will be our next Prime Minister.

This is the election in which social networking sites will really come into their own. You can follow my Tweets on http://twitter.com/grahamdines and the latest news from the Star can be found on http://twitter.com/eveningstar

THE BATTLEGROUND

IPSWICH

Labour's Chris Mole, who became MP in 2001 after the death of Jamie Cann, will be hoping that the 6.37 per cent swing needed for the Tories to win will be too much for Ben Gummer, son of the outgoing MP for Suffolk Coastal John Gummer, to achieve.

In this tight two-horse race, the Greens and the UK Independence Party will also be standing but there is no sign yet that the Liberal Democrats are going to field a candidate and there is the possibility that the British National Party will enter fray.

NORTH IPSWICH AND CENTRAL SUFFOLK

In Ipswich's other seat - North Ipswich and Central Suffolk - Sir Michael Lord, who has been the Conservative MP since 1983, is not seeking re-election. For the past 13 years, he has been a deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

The Conservatives have selected gynecologist Dr Dan Poulter to defend Sir Michael's 7,856 majority. Labour's standard bearer will be newcomer Bavni Joshi, which the Liberal Democrats are pinning their hopes on Norwich teacher Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne , who lives in the north of the constituency.

The Greens have selected Andrew Stringer, a Mid Suffolk district councillor, to fight the seat.

SOUTH SUFFOLK

Tim Yeo will once again be defending South Suffolk, where he has been the Conservative MP since 1983. Labour are fielding Emma Bishton, who lives in Nayland, and the Liberal Democrat choice is teacher Nigel Smith. David Campbell Bannerman, who is deputy leader of the UK Independence Party, is also standing.

SUFFOLK COASTAL

Suffolk Coastal will have a new MP because John Gummer is not seeking re-election after 31 in the House of Commons representing the county. The Conservatives have selected Therese Coffey, and if she is elected, she'll be the first woman in the county's history to make it to Westminster.

Chris Mole's parliamentary researcher Adam Leeder will be the Labour candidate, the Liberal Democrats have selected Daisy Cooper while standing for the Greens Party is Rachel Fulcher.

BURY ST EDMUNDS

Bury St Edmunds, which includes Stowmarket and Needham Market, saw one of the biggest swings to the Tories of any seat in Britain in 2005 when David Ruffley's majority shot up by 7,000. It will be boosted further by the addition of the safe Conservative area of Horringer, which has been transferred from West Suffolk.

St Edmundsbury councillor David Chappell will be the Liberal Democrat candidate and Labour has selected Kevin Hind. The Greens are putting their faith in Mark Ereira-Guyer, who stood as the Labour candidate in the constituency in 1997 and 2001.