SOME candidates have months or even years before election day to campaign in the seat they hope to win.
Holly Lynch was given just over six weeks to win the key marginal seat for Halifax for Labour having only been selected as the party’s candidate at the end of March.
Labour’s hunt for someone to contest the seat was triggered by sitting MP Linda Riordan’s decision in February not to seek another term on health grounds.
Her decision, and Mrs Lynch’s subsequent selection, has set up one of the most intriguing contests in Yorkshire at this election.
Halifax, held by Labour in 2010 by a majority of just 1,472 votes, is considered vital to both major parties’ hopes of forming a government after May 7.
And the campaign sees Mrs Lynch, a 28-year-old first time candidate born and raised in the town, taking on the Conservatives’ Philip Allott, an experienced politician making his fourth attempt to become an MP including contesting Halifax five years ago.
Although active with the party, Mrs Lynch says she did not consider running for Parliament until she was approached by local members following Mrs Riordan’s decision to stand down.
“It’s been quite a big transition for me. I’m used to going around supporting our councillors and doing the campaigning as an activist and not as a candidate,” she says.
“Pushing leaflets with your face on through letterboxes and knocking on doors and people saying they just saw you on the news does take a bit getting used to.
“But the more people I speak to who tell me they are struggling or tell me about their problems the more determined I am to win to help them.”
She hopes Halifax voters will relate to someone who “went to local schools and did all sorts of jobs like making sandwiches on zero-hour contracts” before working her way up through the ranks of local firm Matrix Technology Solutions and later taking a job in Yorkshire with Labour.
“There’s no doubt we’ve got a lot of work to do. It helps I’m from Halifax and know these streets and these people so I can hit the ground running.”
Her Conservative opponent certainly believes his previous experience and long time as a candidate will help his cause in the final countdown to May 7.
“I’ve been going out now nearly eight years taking up local issues. It’s ironic that certain people think I’m actually the Member of Parliament here,” Mr Allott says.
“The real issue is that Halifax has got to have a lot of attention, it’s been punching below its weight for a number of years, I intend to reverse that.”
He adds: “I think it’s an advantage because people know who I am, I’ve satisfied a lot of people by taking up issues that have previously been ignored, there is certainly name recognition and all of those are good things to have.”
He’s also enjoyed the backing of senior Conservatives with a visit to Halifax by the Chancellor this month following one by the Prime Minister earlier this year. But Mr Allott, who previously set up his own business as well as sitting on Harrogate Council, is not taking anything for granted. Getting out and about in the community, talking to people I’ve been talking to over the last eight years is a key part of our strategy.
“At the end of the day you can have all the clever gimmicks, you can put every leaflet there is under the sun through people’s letterboxes but if you don’t connect with the individuals who you are campaigning to win over then you’ll not get their vote.”
The full list of candidates standing in Halfax is: Trevor Bendrien - Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”, Mohammad Ilyas - Liberal Democrats, Asama Javed - The Respect Party, Liz Phillips - UKIP, Gary Scott - Green Party.