The 2010 General Election Guide

The Independent voters’ panel

Meet 12 readers from Middle England who will give their verdict throughout the campaign...


'Education policy will influence my support'



Melanie Viney, 37


Mother of two, from Edgbaston. Works part time as an NHS manager


The constituency: Birmingham Edgbaston: Labour seat, held by Gisela Stuart by 2,349 votes (16,465 for Labour; 14,116 for Conservatives).


In the last election: voted Conservative.


This time: "We have another round of redundancies coming up in our hospital and people are worried that cuts will hit frontline services. "We have been told PCTs will have a freeze put on their funding and we have to take that into account when we are planning; that will be an important battleground. I think the economy will be a big issue as well.

"Education policy will sway my vote. I am having to send my daughter to a private school because we are not in a good catchment area. I want to see what the politicians are proposing to help me with that."

'My vote swings on the debates'
Roger Pass, 67
Retired project engineer for Land Rover
The constituency: Redditch: Labour seat, held by Jacqui Smith by 2,716 votes (18,012 for Labour; 15,296 for Conservatives).
In the last election: voted Labour.
This time: "I was a committed socialist but recent events have changed my mind. We were affected by the Jacqui Smith expenses affair. The expenses broke my heart. It kind of put me off the Labour Party. It is a shame she will still be around. I have faith in Gordon Brown but not in Jacqui Smith. I want to see how the cuts will come but I do not mind paying extra taxes if it means keeping the services we already have. My vote swings on the debates. I will vote for a party, not a person."

'The main issue for me is schools'
Ashley Evans, 25
Primary school teacher
The constituency: Solihull: Liberal Democrat seat, held by Lorely Burt by 279 votes (20,896 for Liberal Democrats; 20,617 for Conservatives).
In the last election: voted Labour.
This time: "In terms of the election campaign, the main issue for me will be education. I would also like to see a government look at increasing the minimum wage to more than £6 per hour – I think that is a fairer rate. I have written to my MP about possible cuts to schools and to the NHS. I do not think the personality of a leader is as important as their policies."

'I do not have a clue who to vote for'
Sunita Sorroy, 23
Customer adviser at Skipton Building Society, engaged to Paul
The constituency: Northampton South: Conservative seat, held by Brian Binley by 4,419 votes (23,818 for Conservatives; 19,399 for Labour).
In the last election: did not think any candidate was worth voting for.
This time: "I do not have a clue who I am going to vote for. I think the NHS is going to prove an important issue; you hear a lot of bad reports about disasters like that in Mid-Staffordshire and they are worrying. What is going to be done? Something needs to be done about the economy, too. Our company has not been too badly affected by the recession but we need to make sure that we keep improving."

'What I want to see is action'
Mumina Hassan, 22
Accounting and finance student at the University of Northampton, originally from Somalia but registered to vote in Northampton South
The constituency: Northampton South: Conservative seat, held by Brian Binley by 4,419 votes (23,818 for Conservatives; 19,399 for Labour).
In the last election: too young to vote.
This time: "The important thing is not what the politicians are saying – what I want to see is action. I am not 100 per cent sure for whom I will vote, I will decide when the time comes.
We need to change the structure of our economy so that a recession is never allowed to happen again."

'NHS funding is a vote winner'
Michael Wager, 25
Office worker for Endsleigh Insurance Services
The constituency: Gloucester: Labour seat, held by Parmjit Dhanda by 4,271 votes (23,138 for Labour; 18,867 for Conservatives). In the last election: voted Labour
This time: "I want to see a politician who can do something about fixing the banking system and making sure that we have some degree of control over it in the future. NHS funding will be a vote-winner, but I really want to see improvements to the education system. I would like a wholesale move away from the league tables, targets-based system because it doesn't produce results."

'Childcare policy is my issue'
Hester Maclean, 33
A mother of one from Solihull. Works as a sales manager at Lloyds TSB
The constituency: Solihull: Liberal Democrat seat, held by Lorely Burt by 279 votes (20,896 for Liberal Democrats; 20,617 for Conservatives).
In the last election: voted Conservative.
This time: "I have always voted Tory in the past but I am not convinced by David Cameron. The big thing for me is childcare policy – taking away the childcare vouchers will impact on me personally.
"I do not have much confidence in Labour's leadership. How the party leaders come across during the campaign and on the televised debates will influence my vote. Another issue which is important to me is the economy, but, more so, the expenses scandal. I submit expenses myself and I could never get away with what they have; I would be sacked if I tried."

'The economy will be a big part'
Ben Williams, 33
Retail manager of the Spar shop in Melbourne, Derbyshire
The constituency: Derbyshire South: held by Labour by 4,495 votes (24,823 for Labour; 20,328 for Conservatives).
In the last election: voted Labour.
The campaign: "As a local shopkeeper, I would like to hear the politicians address community issues. Despite Melbourne being a seemingly idyllic little village, there is quite a lot of anti-social behaviour on an evening. The economy will obviously play a big part in the campaign as well."

'The parties are too similar'
Oliver Chapman, 18
An A-level student from Ticknall, Derbyshire. Studying history, geography and English literature
The constituency: South Derbyshire: Labour seat, held by Mark Todd by 4,495 votes (24,823 for Labour; 20,328 for Conservatives).
In the last election: too young to vote.
This time: "A focus on the economy is a large issue, as is immigration and overpopulation and cuts to funding in universities. But the parties are often too similar and do not focus on any specific issues. They do not like to make any major changes, for fear of upsetting people. I will probably vote for one of the main three parties so as not to waste my vote."

'I want some new blood'
Will Workman
Market stall owner
In the last election: voted Liberal Democrat
The constituency: Redditch: Labour seat, held by Jacqui Smith by 2,716 votes (18,012 for Labour; 15,296 for Conservatives).
The campaign: "I have always been a Labour man, but in the last couple of years I have become increasingly unsure. I want some new blood in the government. The expenses scandal was criminal; if I did half of what they did, I would be in trouble with the law." I believe the election will be fought on the back of the expenses scandal. It is like Ashcroft not paying taxes – the system needs to be cleaned up."

'It should be easier to start a business'
Lisa Smith, 43
Owner of a hair salon, from Billing. Lives with her husband and three children
The constituency: Northampton South: Conservative seat, held by Brian Binley by 4,419 votes (23,818 for Conservatives; 19,399 for Labour).
In the last election: voted Labour.
This time: "As a new business owner, I think that the people on middle incomes get stung for everything. It is only those at the top or at the bottom of the scale who seem to reap the benefits of government measures. I would like to see the politicians put measures in place to make it easier for those wanting to set up and run their own businesses."

'I might even vote Green'
Babar Niazi, 40
Married father of two from Edgbaston. Works as an operating theatre nurse
The constituency: Birmingham Edgbaston: Labour seat, held by Gisela Stuart by 2,349 votes (16,465 for Labour; 14,116 for Conservatives).
In the last election: voted Labour.
This time: "I'm broadly left-wing but I'm disillusioned. I do not know which way I will vote. The Conserv-atives look more like the old Labour Party than Labour do. I might even vote Green. The main issues in the campaign would be the NHS and the economy. I'm disillusioned with the NHS because we are understaffed and overworked. I think we should be careful about how quickly we cut the deficit. I think the banks will be a big issue as well. Their staff get bonuses while I can't even get a mortgage. I'm trying to move house and twice it has fallen through over the mortgage."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Arts and Entertainment
Ella Henderson's first studio album has gone straight to the top of the charts
music
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

Life and Style
fashion
News
Paul Nuttall, left, is seen as one of Ukip's key weapons in selling the party to the North of England
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
Arts and Entertainment
artKaren Wright tours the fair and wishes she had £11m to spare
News
i100
Life and Style
Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh been invited to take part in Women Fashion Power, a new exhibition that celebrates the way women's fashion has changed in relation to their growing power and equality over the past 150 years
fashionKirsty and Camila swap secrets about how to dress for success
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Year 5/6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Permanent Year 6 TeacherThe job:This...

KS1 & KS2 Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: KS1+KS2 Teachers required ASAP for l...

Year 2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 2 Teacher The position is to wo...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past