Blackpool used to play host to party conferences. It was a place where politics was done. But those days are long gone.
It has been more than a decade since a major political party chose this town as a location in which to gather, eat, drink, debate and spend thousands of pounds.
Blackpool is a long way from London in more ways than one.
Life expectancy is falling, homelessness is three times the national average, there’s high unemployment and the highest number of drug deaths of any English town.
The number of disadvantaged pupils in its schools is well above the national average too.
In June 2016, 67.5% of voters here opted to leave the EU.
But this week, as the Conservatives gather in Manchester, the party will have one eye on Blackpool South, a constituency which could swing to the Conservatives in a general election after being a Labour seat since 1997.
In 2015, UKIP took more than 17% of the vote in Blackpool South, but lost nearly all of that in 2017.
Those votes were picked up by the Conservatives and Labour. They are the votes that the Conservatives hope to win more of in an election. They need just a 4% swing to seize the seat.
Blackpool South is a marginal seat and voters seem unsure who to vote for.
Syrus Ainsworth is having coffee with his mother, Mina, in the Heritage coffee shop in the centre of town.
“I’m not sure who I would vote for. I don’t trust Corbyn and that’s why I probably wouldn’t vote Labour. So I guess Conservative will get my vote. But I’m uneasy about it.”
Mina Eastwood, Syrus’s mothers, agrees: “I am usually a Labour voter but I don’t trust Jeremy Corbyn either.
“For the first time in my life I’m looking at the Conservatives. You have to ask yourself who is best placed to deliver Brexit and I think that has to be Boris Johnson.”
Sue Flint, a life-long Labour voter, is unhappy with politics and politicians but not enough to make drastic changes to her political habits.
“I think Jeremy Corbyn is the man to lead the country. He is compassionate and cares and wants to undo some of the damaging policies of the Conservatives. I could never vote Conservative.”
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Tourism is of course a key industry in Blackpool. There are thought to be around 1000 guest houses, B&B and hotels and Claire Smith owns two of them.
“I usually vote Conservative but I have no idea who I would vote for.
“I am unhappy with all political parties to be honest. It is possible that for the first time I might vote Liberal Democrat. I just don’t know.
“Business is tough. it has been a hard season and that’s because guests are very nervous about the political situation and anything that causes nervousness affects business.”
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