In the run-up to Britain’s election SBS senior correspondent Brian Thomson visits some of the key marginal constituencies which will decide the election.


North Swindon in Wiltshire is a labour-held seat high on the Conservatives list of must win constituencies.

Like the country at large Swindon is deeply divided over who to vote for.

It was the Great Western Railway that put Swindon on the map. For over 100 years the machine shops here provided thousands with work.

When the jobs finally dissappeared in the 1980’s new businesses were attracted to the town – among them car manufacturing and financial services – industries that have suffered the same fate as the railways during the recent recession.

Local publican John Doyle was so incensed by the demise of his town that he heckled Gordon Brown during a recent visit.

“The people just want a helping hand, they want to get back to work, they want to feed their families,” said the publican, who was granted a meeting with the Prime Minister – a move which may have been just enough to keep him voting Labour.

Labour holds the two seats here by a margin of just over 2,000 votes so if the Conservatives are to win the election they must take Swindon.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us, a lot of pressure to deliver,” says Tory candidate Justin Tomlinson. “We’re all working as hard as we can to play our part in delivering a Conservative government.

Swindon is a straight fight between the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats have no chance of breaking through here.

Labour candidate Victor Agarwal is a newcomer to the area and unlike the Conservatives he does not have a big financial backer but he’s confident of winning despite the nationwide swing against Labour.

The Tories need voters in Swindon to switch directly to them from Labour but many voters appear to be either sticking with Labour or flirting with the minor parties.