MP's on course to lose his seat
TORY MP Charlie Elphicke is on course to lose the next general election in 2015 to Labour.
The latest predictions produced by the Electoral Calculus website show that Mr Elphicke's majority of more than 5,000 could be overturned.
In fact, Labour would take the seat – seen as the bellwether marginal for Kent and the country – with a majority of around 1,500.
The prediction service – which takes into account national polls and trends but not local issues – even has Labour's likelihood to win the seat at 57.3 per cent compared to Mr Elphicke's party on 42.2.
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If the forecasts translated into reality across the country, it would be a major blow to the Coalition and would most likely see Labour march back to power.
The EC website predicts Labour with 359 seats and the Tories on 243. The Lib Dems would be obliterated, with just 18 seats.
But some local observers say Mr Elphicke could be saved by his personal popularity and his support for the People's Port and a local hospital. Mr Elphicke's outspoken defence of port workers and being a supporter of the frontline public sector, such as immigration staff, will help his cause.
"Charlie is well liked. He's managed to get things moving. He's no empty vessel," said one observer.
The Labour Party has yet to name the woman from its all-female candidates' list to fight the seat. The candidate, if chosen today from outside the area, will have three years to establish herself in an opposition role.
But some experienced Labour hands have begun to wonder aloud if a solid, well-known local person might be preferable in order to win what might be a tight contest.
In keeping with Mr Elphicke's usual stance on the subject of polls, he said: "They're often a sideshow and often wrong. I'm taking nothing for granted – I'll fight for every vote."
Mr Elphicke dumped out Labour's Gwyn Prosser in 2010. Mr Prosser's 5,000 majority was the safest in Kent in the run-up to the last election.