I've split the metropolitan county of Tyne & Wear in two. This one will focus on Sunderland and South Tyneside and you can find Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and North Tyneside here. Labour won all 13 seats in this metropolitan area in 2005 by the Boundary Commission saw fit to remove a constituency resulting in a complete restructuring of the Parliamentary Boundaries. The confusion has been compounded due to the fact 6 MPs are standing down and a 7th is 'moving' seat. The Liberal Democrats will be looking to make a breakthrough at Parliamentary level in this area but the Conservatives are also eying a gain whilst Labour are down.
The City of Sunderland Council is a Labour stronghold and they currently run the council with 48 of the 75 seats. The Conservatives form the opposition with 22 councillors. In 2008 five seats changed hands, all Labour to the Tories. South Tyneside is a bit different. Although it too is run by Labour, with 31 of the 54 seats, 17 independents were elected in the 2008 election, meaning neither the Lib Dems nor the Conservatives made any inroads.
S'land S & Houghton
S'land W & Washington
It's Sunderland where the Tyne & Wear area has seemingly lost a seat. It's not quite that clear cut but the two seats in the actual city of Sunderland have become one, with the remnants distributed between the other two vastly reworked constituencies within the council boundary. Bill Etherington is the notional incumbent but he's standing down anyway. He has since become an outspoken defender of MPs expenses, stating he wouldn't pay back any money if he thought the claim was within the rules. I'm not sure this will be helping Julie Elliott's efforts to hold this seat for Labour, especially as the Conservatives are running a strong candidate in the shape of their Council Leader Lee Martin. If Labour are having a terrible night then there could be a big upset here, but the safe bet is Labour Hold.
Chirs Mullin has frequently been the first MP officially returned to Parliament in recent years thanks to the speed of the count in his old Sunderland South constituency. This year things will be different though as Mullin is standing down
and the seat has been abolished. Three wards from the old seat are now merged with the Houghton part of the old Houghton and Washington East seat to create Houghton & Sunderland South. The seat has a massive notional majority for Labour and so it's hard to see anyone but their candidate Bridget Phillipson winning this; Labour Hold.
Washington & Sunderland West completes the trio of reworked Sunderland seats and the notional incumbent Fraser Kemp is not standing for re-election. He served three terms as MP for the old Houghton and Washington East seat but his retirement does not mean the new constituency will not have a sitting MP seeking election in it. Sharon Hodgeson is following southern half her Gateshead and Washington West seat into this one and will be defending a huge notional majority. She'll easily secure her second term in Parliament; Labour Hold.
Stephen Hepburn's constituency, Jarrow, was relatively untouched by the boundary commission. The loss of an eastern ward to the South Shields seat and the addition of a couple of wards from Gateshead have shaved a thousand votes off his notional majority but this shouldn't affect the outcome. The fact he's had to repay will be equally irrelevant as Hepburn looks set to win a fourth term; Labour Hold.
Depending on who you listen to South Shields could provide the Labour with its next leader. The current Foreign Secretary David Miliband is safe as houses and should easily win this seat for the third time; Labour Hold.