PERHAPS for the first time in a generation, in many seats in south Durham and the Tees Valley, the casting of every vote could really, really count.

In nearly all of our seats, it is a two horse race: red versus blue, Labour versus Tory. But how do you choose? Boris Johnson, although likeable, is dishonest. He misled the Queen. And his party has been in power for ten years, inflicting unfair austerity on the North-East, and failing to invest in the NHS – remember those worst ever A&E figures from the start of the campaign?

But Jeremy Corbyn? In Downing Street? Negotiating with the EU? All candidates tell how toxic he is on the doorstep. Not only is there a fudge on Brexit, there's the stain of anti-semitism and the extraordinary giveaways in the manifesto which seem somehow to be paid for by a tax on the rich. Does anyone believe this?

Yet you have to pick one. To spoil your ballot is a cop-out, and will do nothing constructive for the country which has to have a new government on Friday.

So put the party to one side and look at the people standing in your seat. Through our pages, you should at least have got a flavour of them. We need the best of them in Parliament, either to pick their way through the Brexit maze, or to reform the losing party so that it is fit enough to scrutinise the most important decision the country is taking since the Second World War.

When you vote for an individual candidate, you may need to shield your eyes so you don't see their party or its leader – but at least take some solace in that your own vote has never been more powerful. Then, as you drop your ballot in the box, wish Great Britain good luck – never in peacetime has this proud nation needed it more.