The constituency of Loughborough had, up until 15 July 2014, been just another seat on Labour’s target list.
It had mildly symbolic value, thanks to the 3.5% swing needed for the Tories to lose being the same as the swing that, were it reproduced nationwide, would leave Ed Miliband’s party with roughly the number of seats David Cameron has now.
But that was the extent of Loughborough’s significance. Its sitting MP had a majority that ranked the constituency the 50th most vulnerable Tory seat in the country. Loughborough felt like the sort of place Labour would aspire to regain (having lost it in 2010) but would probably fall short, thanks to a poorly-resourced campaign and lack of sufficient interest.
But then everything changed.
Last Tuesday Loughborough’s MP Nicky Morgan found herself being rocketed up through the ranks to be appointed the government’s education secretary. In a stroke she became the Conservatives’ most high-profile politician in a marginal seat. And in doing so she also became Labour’s number one potential prize scalp.