BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 10:53 UK

Battles for marginal seats in Beds, Bucks and Herts

Margaret Moran
Scandal-hit Luton South MP Margaret Moran will not be standing

The Conservatives need to win three key seats from Labour in Beds, Bucks and Herts to have a realistic chance of gaining a majority in parliament.

For the Tories to take Milton Keynes South, they need a 1.5% swing, while Bedford and Stevenage both require swings of 4%.

In Buckingham, Speaker of the House John Bercow is being challenged by UKIP and at least three independents.

Traditionally, the main parties do not stand against the Speaker.

Therefore, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are not putting up candidates in Buckingham.

In Luton South, Labour MP Margaret Moran is standing down after being heavily criticised in the expenses scandal.

Television presenter Esther Rantzen stepped into the fray in the aftermath of the scandal.

She is standing on an "anti-sleaze" ticket, but has lost her target since Ms Moran's decision to step down.

Luton South, Cambridge, Norwich South, Ipswich and Buckingham are the eastern region's key seats

The question is how well Labour's majority of 5,698 votes in Luton South will hold up for Labour's new candidate, Gaven Shuker.

Nigel Huddleston, the Conservative Party candidate, and Liberal Democrat candidate Qurban Hussain are also hoping to win the seat.

The Tories won Milton Keynes North in 2005 but because of boundary changes it has become notionally a Labour seat, with a wafer-thin 848 majority.

Another seat to watch is Watford where the youngest female MP, Labour's Claire Ward, then 24, was elected in the 1997 landslide.

Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are contesting the seat.

Labour is targeting Hemel Hempstead and St Albans in Hertfordshire where swings of 0.2% and 1.5% could take the seats from the Conservatives.

A full list of candidates in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire is on the BBC election site.

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