Out there - East Anglia

James Buchan rates the politicians of Norfolk

National preoccupations, like visitors to Norfolk, have trouble getting up the A11. Even if they make it up to Norwich, they will have despaired by Asda on the ring road, and turned back for home.

Since the last general election in 2001, prosperity and foot-and-mouth have cut deeply into the county's old agricultural character, and traditional market towns like Aylsham have been turned overnight into dormitories of Norwich.

Yarmouth is - as ever - on the threshold of a "new dawn", transport is bad, schools worse, and the beautiful new PFI Norfolk and Norwich Hospital the therapeutic equivalent of the M25.

Farmers are unpopular and hunting is not an issue, except in the west. Xenophobia is strong and inaccurate. My beloved Arabic teacher, who is Tunisian, is called a "smelly Paki" by her pupils at Yarmouth High. National politicians are a liability. In Norwich North, Dr Ian Gibson, the leftish MP, cut Tony Blair out of his campaign leaflets, only to have Hilary Benn on a visit tell schoolchildren at Hewett School that outsourcing jobs to India was great. You could hear the groan all over town, and the delight in Surrey Street, headquarters of Norwich Union.

Across Norwich, the Lib Dems are hoping to rattle Charles Clarke's peace of mind, but are unlikely to do much to dent his majority (8,816). Norfolk politicians have a pathological "motorway envy" (we don't have one) so the Greens may pick up a few votes.

Henry Bellingham is probably safe on his 3,485 majority for the Tories in North-West Norfolk. In South-West Norfolk, Christopher Fraser, the new Conservative candidate, has been reluctant to show up at public meetings, and rubbed the Eastern Daily Press up the wrong way. Still, Gillian Shephard has left him a 9,000 majority.

The pick of the battles is in North Norfolk, where the Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has to defend a majority of just 483. He has been a terrific constituency MP, but Iain Dale, who is both Tory and gay, has some of the hunger that won the seat for Lamb last time, at the third attempt.

In the preliminary mud-slinging, Dale has more than held his own. Meanwhile, for the surly and pampered retirees of Sheringham and Weybourne, the Lib Dems do well on council tax and stopping houses falling into the sea, though the Tories are picking up on pensions. (There are no immigrants.) Everything depends on the UK Independence Party. It polled about 6,900 in the Euro elections. Even if Ukip captures only unreconstructed toffs and blimps, it could hurt Dale.

In Great Yarmouth, the only red seat outside Norwich, the Liberal Democrat challenger has shown an admirable sense of proportion. He spent the first week of the campaign on holiday in Spain. He told the local BBC that it was the week of his timeshare.

Now that's a slogan for our times: A Spanish timeshare in every pot!

James Buchan has a small farm in North Norfolk