The Conservatives are the first to make their play for political trendsetter Hove only days after the dissolution of Parliament.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, took the campaign trail to Hove, East Sussex yesterday to announce an employment pledge of 2,500 jobs with Pizza Express.
The minister was joined by local Tory candidate Graham Cox in the announcement.
Since 1979, the party that has won Hove has gone on to win the overall election, and in 2010 the vote share was closer to the national result than anywhere else in the country.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the constituency is receiving particular attention so early on in the race.
Interestingly, Osborne’s employment pledge involves a widespread apprenticeship scheme with Pizza Express, marking an unusual attempt from the Tories to reach out to younger voters.
However, with Green Brighton just down the road and recent polls showing the Tories trailing 24% to the Green party’s 26%, and Labour’s 37% in student polls, suggests that this move might be too late.
The Tory constituency faces a close battle between the two main parties, after former MP Mike Weatherley decided against standing this term.
An Ashcroft poll at the end of 2014 showed Labour candidate Peter Kyle leading 37% to new Conservative candidate Graham Cox’s 34%.
Kyle’s self-proclaimed “modest ambition” to visit every doorstep in his electorate appears to be earning him respect with the locals.
Osborne was due to arrive in Hove by train but was forced to change his plans after disruptions to Brighton rail services – a familiar problem for locals and ironically, one which the Brighton Greens want to fix with the renationalisation of train services if re-elected on May 7th.