Comprising the 30 parliamentary constituencies in the counties of Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear together with the unitary authorities of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees.
At the 1997 general election Labour won 28 seats, the Conservatives one and the Liberal Democrats one.
The North East region is Labour's strongest electoral fiefdom in the UK. It was the only region where the party polled a majority of votes in 1992. In 1997 Labour's share of the vote (64%) was almost 10% above that anywhere else.
At that election the Conservatives held on to their single constituency (Hexham) by just 222 votes. The Liberal Democrat constituency (Berwick-upon-Tweed) is rather safer with an 8,000 majority.