Up at the Tory base in Newark, James Landale bring us picture evidence of the roll of honour for campaigning MPs. As Guido revealed in the Sun at the weekend, MPs groaned when told by Deputy Chief Whip Greg Hands that they would have to sign in to prove they had actually turned up to pound the pavements. Crafty slackers slipping off home immediately after signing their names on the whiteboard were then told they would be required to sign in both in the morning and the afternoon. Now they have to jot down their exact arrival and departure times for all to see. Three visits is the minimum expected of them, as you can see by Chris Skidmore’s keenness to show his commitment in the picture above. Hands is emailing out lists of MPs in order of appearances to name and shame the skivers…
“The people’s army is coming”, a senior commander tells Guido this morning. On the back of the Euro Elections, UKIP are turning their attention to Newark and boldly claim they will have 1,000 troops on the ground. Guido understands that every single newly elected MEP is under strict instructions not to head to Brussels until after the vote next Thursday, and every single office holder at every level in the party is expected to invade the Notthinghamshire town. While UKIP sources are pouring cold water on their chances of outright victory, they are relishing “a very close run” and wiping out most of the 16,000 Tory majority: “They won’t be able to send the entire cabinet to the same seat every day in the general election.”
Guido hears there was a bit of a barney at the political cabinet last Tuesday. The PM made it perfectly clear that he expects all of his colleagues to pull their weight in the Newark by-election and one claims that Dave “lost his rag” about taxpayer funded special advisers refusing to campaign. Guido understands there has been a bit of an email revolt to No. 10 by uppity SpAds who resent not getting a cheeky day off while their bosses tour the Nottinghamshire seat. When one Secretary of State gently pointed out to the PM that the civil service code of conduct bans SpAds from the stump, the PM’s ‘tiredness’ did not improve one little bit. Anyone would think he was encouraging them to ignore the rules…
UKIP might be barking up the wrong tree selecting Roger Helmer in Newark, but it is the Tories who have suffered the first casualty of next month’s by-election. Therese Coffey has been in hospital this afternoon after being bitten by a pugnacious pooch while out canvassing.
She tells Guido the unfortunate incident was the “first time in 25 years of campaigning. It was a little terrier.” It happened while she was “giving it a treat, so it was literally biting the hand that fed it”.
Fortunately she was checked out after minor treatment. Guido sends his best wishes…
George Young has moved the writ for the Newark by-election.
It’ll be on Thursday June 5th.
Two weeks after the Euros…
The UKIP leader says he will “think very hard” about standing in Newark but appeared cautious last night, asking “is it the right seat for me?” Guido gives you the pros and cons facing Farage.
- Analysis by the Election Data website (right, click to enlarge) looking at Mosaic demographic data, past voting behaviour and self-reported political affiliation suggests that Farage would be well received in Newark. The overwhelming majority of the constituency is seen as “receptive” or “fairly receptive” to UKIP, with some areas “very receptive”. Only the town centre are voters described as “unreceptive”.
- UKIP’s support in the seat has multiplied in the last four years. In 2010 the UKIP candidate polled just 3.8%. As George Eaton notes in the 2013 county council elections the party won 17.1% in Newark and Sherwood. The by-election will come off the back of a Tory humiliation in Europe.
- Mike Smithson makes a convincing point for the pro camp: the last Tory by-election hold while in government was William Hague at Richmond in 1989 – 25 years ago.
- Farage has hinted that he wants to run in a by-election before 2015. How many more by-elections will there be in UKIP-friendly Tory seats in the next year?
- Patrick Mercer had a majority of 16,152. It is a fairly safe Tory seat.
- The Tory candidate Robert Jenrick has been putting in the groundwork over the last few weeks in anticipation of a by-election and the Tories are quietly confident their man is the real deal. Though his website needs some work.
- Farage told BBC News last night his main reservation is that he is not a local candidate, admitting “I haven’t particularly got connections with the local area”. Given UKIP’s Tory opponent has been parachuted in, might UKIP gain from running a candidate from within the constituency instead?
- The establishment media is with one voice telling Farage that if he does not run in Newark then he is a bottler. His enemies seem awfully keen on Nigel running. The Tory stooges at the Times have put it on their front page, as have the Telegraph. Are they setting a trap?
Or does he who dares win…
Panic stations as the Standards Committee report into Patrick “Guido will be all over this” Mercer is expected very soon – it’s widely expected to be damning after last year’s lobbying sting. If the Committee recommend a long suspension from the House, the MacShane precedent is a resignation and a by-election. There is also scope for a headache vote in the Commons if Mercer does not jump. Just what No. 10 need right now.
Conservative: 27590 (53.9%)
Labour: 11438 (22.3%)
Lib Dem: 10246 (20%)
UKIP: 1954 (3.8%)
MAJORITY: 16152 (31.5%)
Nottinghamshire is lovely this time of year. Mercer’s notionally safe Tory seat of Newark in the East Midlands has a chunky Labour vote and would be a big test for UKIP, who are doing well out of the latest outbreak of Tory sleaze stories. If they can’t win in circumstances like this, then where can they?
Data via UK Polling Report
The Guy Newsroom is celebrating last night’s by-election result after wagering a four-figure sum on UKIP coming second. The result was never in doubt and Mike “I’m perfectly happy Ed Miliband is leader” Kane is Labour’s new MP.
Labour: 13,261, 55.34% (+11.21%)
UKIP: 4,301, 17.95% (+14.51%)
Conservative: 3,479, 14.52% (-11.03%)
Liberal Democrat: 1,176, 4.91% (-17.44%)
The Lib Dems lost their deposit for the eighth time since 2010…
UKIP are having a tougher time than they expected in the Manchester by-election today, compared to their breakthrough in places like Rotherham. On the back of the latest polls, full expectation management seems to have finally kicked in and the narrative is about being neck and neck for third with the Tories. […] Read the rest
UKIP’s battle to challenge Labour in Wythenshawe and Sale East is turning nasty. Farage has written to Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, complaining that the current system of postal voting is biased in favour of UKIP’s opponents. He argues:
[…] Read the rest
“I do not think democracy is being well served and fear that the voting process is now actually undermining the ability of constituents to hear and weigh-up the alternatives being offered in a considered fashion.
Labour are clearly worried about the UKIP surges in recent by-elections – they have opted for snap poll in Wythenshawe and Sale East after the death of the well liked Labour MP Paul Goggins. The polling day of February 13 gives the parties just over three weeks to try dent the notionally safe Labour majority.[…] Read the rest
Sadly Labour MP Paul Goggins has died. The former Home Office Minister’s held the safe-Labour Manchester seat of Wythenshawe and Sale East with a majority of 7,575:
Conservative: 10412 (25.6%)
Labour: 17987 (44.1%)
Lib Dem: 9107 (22.3%)
BNP: 1572 (3.9%)
UKIP: 1405 (3.4%)
MAJORITY: 7575 (18.6%)
UKIP will be wanting that second place…