CLEGGMANIA is set to win a seat for his party in the North-East, according to an exclusive poll for The Northern Echo released this morning.

But the plaudit-winning TV performance of Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, may save at least one Labour MP from the chop.

The YouGov poll shows the Lib Dems up four per cent in the North-East on their showing last week. Across the region as a whole, they took 24 per cent of the vote, with Labour up two to 45 and the Conservatives down two to 25.

But as the poll was conducted between April 11 and 18, it will not show the full extent of the Lib Dem surge following the televised Leaders’ Debate last Thursday in which Mr Clegg performed so well.

The four per cent rise, though, will be enough for the party to take the City of Durham seat where Carol Woods is predicted to win 41 per cent of the vote, just ahead of Roberta Blackman- Woods’ 39 per cent. The Conservatives’ Nick Varley falls back slightly to 14 per cent.

But in Stockton South, the four per cent rise puts the seat on a knife edge. Last week’s poll had the Tories four per cent ahead in the seat, but now they are neck-and-neck with Labour on 39 per cent each.

In the region’s other marginal seat, Labour-held Tynemouth, the Tories’ lead has dropped to three per cent.

The poll was commissioned by the leading politics website PoliticsHome. It interviewed 411 people in the North-East.

Despite the sophistication of YouGov’s methods, this is a small sample.

It was part of a wider poll which asked nearly 10,000 people across the country. It put the Conservatives on 37 per cent, Labour on 31 and the Lib Dems on 24 – which would produce a hung parliament with Labour the largest party but 46 seats short of an overall majority.

PoliticsHome’s analysis shows Lib Dem rises across the country. Labour gained support in the North-East and Wales but fell back in London, the North-West and Yorkshire.

Conservative support has dropped or remained static in every region apart from London.

Other national polls conducted over the weekend, when the news was full of Mr Clegg’s bravura performance, show his party soaring ten points so that it clears the 30 per cent mark. The most recent YouGov poll even has the party on 33 per cent ahead of the Conservatives on 32 per cent, with Labour trailing on 26 per cent.

Lib Dems hail end of North-East ‘one party state’

LIB Dem chiefs hailed the end of a North-East “one party state” as they launched their manifesto for the region.

Speaking at Kingston Park, home of the Newcastle Falcons, Lord Shutt, Liberal Democrat chief whip in the House of Lords, told party candidates and activists: “We can be and have been part of ending the one-party state that has been the North-East of England.”

Lord Shutt said the party had produced a credible manifesto for the British people, leader Nick Clegg had made a wonderful personal pitch and councillors had put the in hard work on the ground in the North-East.

The party’s regional manifesto, called Change That Works for the North-East, says under the Lib Dems nearly one in five people would pay no income tax, £175m extra would be provided for schools, there would be extra police on the streets and new life and thousands of new jobs for disused docks and shipyards.

Carol Woods, Lib Dem candidate for Durham City, said the manifesto was centred around four major themes – fairer taxes, a fair chance for every child, a sustainable economy and cleaning up politics.

She added: “We have seen an increase in the number of people who want to come and help us, and people are really positive about Nick Clegg.”

Tory battle bus focuses on health concerns

THE Conservative Party’s NHS battle bus has been touring the North-East focusing on people’s health concerns.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley called at Guisborough, east Cleveland, to visit the Garth Surgery along with Paul Bristow, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

They toured the surgery and spoke to doctors to get a feel for health care in the area.

Mr Lansley said: “We are talking to GPs about the heath service and looking at a number of issues that they are raising. Health services are one of the key issues that people are talking about.

“We have fought hard to protect community hospitals in town’s like Guisborough and we will continue to defend them. They are really important to towns because they give people the opportunity to access quality services that are closer to home.”

The bus also called at Tynemouth and Sunderland Central constituencies to support the campaigns of Wendy Morton and Lee Martin.