THE Easington constituency, embracing the former mining area of east Durham, has long been a Labour stronghold.

The area has been held by the party since 1922, when the seat was occupied by the first Labour Prime Minster Ramsay MacDonald.

The legacy of industrial strife runs deep in many of the former pit villages, with memories of the Miners Strike of 1984 still fresh in the collective psyche.

Although antipathy toward the Conservative party remains entrenched, there are pockets of sizeable support for the Tories.

The last elections, though, saw an upsurge in Ukip support with the party coming well behind Labour, and just ahead of the Tories.

With high levels of deprivation in east Durham, a key local issue identified by candidates is the need to attract investment for regeneration and jobs.

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Grahame Morris, Labour Party

MP Grahame Morris, who has held the seat for Labour since 2010, said: “In terms of local priorities the big issue for us is about investment for regeneration.

“What we sought to do in the period Labour was in Government was to forge a partnership between the public and private sector and government agencies and had at that time had an active industrial policy.”

Among the notable successes, he said, were the regeneration of Seaham and the development of Dalton Park.

He said: “One of the things we are promoting is a regional investment bank, which we think would be a real positive for our region providing the necessary funding.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Barney Campbell, Conservative Party

Representing the Conservative Party is Barney Campbell, 33, who is proud of his service in the British Army, including a tour of Afghanistan.

Mr Campell, who worked subsequently with a firm on various infrastructure projects in Europe, said: “I would focus of jobs, investment and on regeneration. I think that if we can follow the very excellent example of what has happened in Seaham and the seafront and copy that across the constituency as a whole, that would be a very good way for Easington to march forward into the 21st century.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Susan McDonnell, The North East Party

The North East Party is represented by Susan McDonnell, 52, an office general manager, of Peterlee.

She said: “I would like to see more equitable investment for the whole of the constituency and would like to see us get a bigger slice of the pie.

“Any investment in the North-East goes to either Tyneside, Newcastle, Sunderland or Tees Valley.

“The only investment in Easington has been at Dalton Park and on the seafront in Seaham, but that is where it stops.

“The last significant investment for Peterlee was the road to nowhere that Tesco built for a store that wasn’t build. Peterlee is largest town in constituency yet we have had no significant investment for decades.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Allyn Roberts, UKIP

The Ukip candidate Allyn Roberts, 48, of Bedlington, Northumberland, is a telecoms company project manager.

He said: “The feeling I get from people in Easington is that they have been bypassed. The A19 goes whizzing past Easington colliery and the railway that has been closed off.

“I’m keen on getting the railway sorted out in in east Durham, whether an extension of the Metro down from Sunderland or a branchline reopened.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Martie Warin, Green Party

Green Party candidate Martie Warin, 29, of Peterlee, said an issues he is focussing on is the proliferation of housing in between Easington Village and Peterlee.

He said: “We are getting over 1,000 new houses, which is connecting Easington to Peterlee. They will be building on greenbelt sites when down at the colliery they are crying out for houses. We want social housing.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Tom Hancock, Liberal Democrats

Tom Hancock, a post-graduate student at Manchester University, is standing for the Lib Dems.

He said: “Easington continues to have significant challenges associated with its industrial past and poor socio-economic indicators. The area’s political domination by the Labour Party for many years has failed east Durham.”

Northern Echo political commentator Chris Lloyd says...

IT seems unlikely that this deeply traditional Labour seat, which has returned such luminaries as Sidney Webb, Ramsay MacDonald and Manny Shinwell, will succumb to the lures of Theresa May.

No, let’s re-word that. In fact, let’s save the hard-pressed taxpayer some money and call the election off. This is Labour’s 25th safest seat. If it fails to win here, where mining memories are still so strong that a party was held on the day Margaret Thatcher died, it will have ceased to exist.

In 2015, Grahame Morris won 61 per cent of the vote – pretty impressive, although a shadow of the 80+ per cent that Shinwell stacked up in the 1950s and 1960s. It was impressive as Ukip fielded one of its strongest candidates, the North-East MEP Jonathan Arnott, and came second with 18.7 per cent.

The people of Easington followed this through in the EU referendum, and followed the coastal trend, by voting 66 per cent for Brexit – but it is hard to imagine them defecting in their thousands to the Tories just because of it.

However, there are signs that some in Easington are a little bored of the unchanging nature of the seat – only 56 per cent, the fourth lowest in the North-East – bothered voting last time.