UKIP Oldham West Runners and Riders

UKIP are already mobilising ahead of the Oldham West by-election. The party managed a respectable 21% there in May, though Michael Meacher leaves behind a formidable 14,000 majority. Guido gives you your runners and riders to be the UKIP candidate…

  • Paul Nuttall – UKIP’s deputy leader is the favourite. Nuttall has previously run in neighbouring Oldham East and is seen as the party candidate, “Nigel’s choice” as one senior figure puts it. Main drawback is he is a Scouser in a Manc area.
  • Mark Davies – A self-made businessman, free marketeer and ethnic minority candidate, Davies “has a great backstory” according to an ally. Ran in Manchester Withington in May so has experience, too.
  • Steven Woolfe – Another local and also a BME candidate, Woolfe came a decent third in Stockport in May. A long-time party spokesman whose face is well-known from TV, though he is currently recovering from recent serious surgery. The by-election may come too soon for him.
  • John Bickley – Fought for UKIP in the Wythenshawe by-election, Bickley is a self-made businessman and the son of a trade unionist. A key proponent of the Red UKIP ‘protect your benefits and the NHS’ strategy in the North. He is old-fashioned ex-Labour so could clean up if they choose a Corbynista candidate.
  • Louise Bours – Famously mouthy and a North-West MEP, Louise was surprisingly coy when Guido asked her if she fancied running: “Any decisions about Oldham will be made by the local branch in conjunction with the UKIP NEC.” Guido will take that as a yes.
  • Francis Arbour – The party’s candidate in May, where he finished a strongish second. Will feel he deserves another crack.

Guido understands there is a hustings at the weekend and the decision is imminent. They think they have a shot…

Rumour: Ed Balls to be Sent to Coventry?

Could Ed Balls soon be back in the Commons? There is a rumour going round that Labour’s veteran MP in Coventry North West, Geoffrey Robinson, who was at the centre of a huge internal row about whether he would stand down before the election, could quit and trigger a by-election:

Causing Labour councillors and members of the Coventry CLP to publicly discuss parachuting Balls in:

They don’t sound too keen…

Top May Ally Cleared: PASC Rules Tory SpAd Telecanvassing Was Unlawful

A report published today by the Public Administration Select Committee has found that CCHQ were wrong to ask Special Advisers to campaign for the party in the Rochester by-election. Theresa May’s SpAd Nick Timothy was dropped from the candidates list in a major internal Tory row after he argued that demands from Grant Shapps for SpAds to take part in telephone canvassing were against their Code of Conduct. The report finds:

“We therefore conclude that any direction to a Special Adviser to conduct telephone canvassing was misguided, and that advice that such a direction or such canvassing was permitted under their Code and contract of employment was wrong in law… We recommend that Special Advisers should never again be confronted with directions or informal pressure that puts them in breach of the Code and of their contracts of employment.”

Will the Tories now reinstate Timothy to the candidates list after this key ruling?

UPDATE: Labour’s Jon Ashworth sticks the boot in:

“The Parliamentary Authorities have delivered a damning assessment of the Number 10 operation, and we now need to know which Ministers were complicit in issuing this ‘misguided’ advice. Given the proximity of the election campaign, we need a formal government response today which outlines how Number 10 will ensure no rules will be broken over the role played by Special Advisers.”

Greens Slump to Third in Natalie Bennett’s Own Ward

Not the sort of news you want on the eve of your spring conference. In the St Pancras and Somers Town council by-election last night – the ward in Natalie Bennett’s target constituency in which she lives – the Green Party fell from second place to third, behind Labour and the Tories. Bennett’s local Greens picked up just 10% of the vote, suggesting the party is some way away from making an impact there ahead of May. Caroline Lucas’ Brighton seat is increasingly looking like the only place the Greens have a chance…

Jittery UKIP Back on Track in Thurrock

UKIP MEP, policy chief and Thurrock parliamentary candidate Tim Aker has added councillor to list of his many jobs, last night winning the Aveley & Uplands by-election. UKIP were jittery amid concerns they would lose yesterday given they were thumped by Labour in a nearby council by-election in October, but Aker fought off the Tories’ dog whistle leaflet campaign calling him “Timür Aker” to romp home. Aker is still consistently ahead of Labour’s carpet-bagging candidate Polly Billington in the constituency polling. UKIP are bullish about his chances next year, but they will need to spend big bucks on their campaign infrastructure to translate this to a parliamentary seat…

UKIP GAIN: Reckless Wins Rochester

Good Morning, It’s By-Election Day!

The polls are open in Rochester and Strood. Mark Reckless is promising fireworks if he wins:

“During the campaign I have spoken with two Conservative MPs about the possibility of their moving over and I think they will want to see what the result is before making any decisions. One of them I had discussions by telephone and the other I met in a location not in the constituency.”

Polls close at 10pm. Declaration expected at 3:30am…

Tories Attack UKIP Plans “To Privatise the NHS”

ukip-nhs

The latest video attack ad of the Rochester and Strood campaign is playing out in the local media…

CCHQ Throwing Kitchen Sink at Reckless

reckless-kent

This is the online version of the main local paper covering Rochester and Strood, and it is running paid for American style anti-Reckless attack ad videos. Whether this is Jim Messina’s influence or just the inevitable next step in digital campaigning is unclear. It is a lot more entertaining than a leaflet through the letterbox…

It is also getting under the skin of Mark Reckless, who is protesting vociferously and unconvincingly on Twitter that he didn’t flop-flop on supporting a massive local housing development for 12,000 people – in doing so making the rookie mistake of repeating his opponent’s charge. It is cheering up Tories who have been on the back foot in this by-election campaign until now…

WATCH: Tories’ US-Style Reckless Attack Ad

The Tories are going very negative on Mark Reckless in Rochester:

Meanwhile UKIP are set for their biggest ever campaign day tomorrow, bussing in 10% of their entire party membership in Rochester on one day. The Tories are calling in the cavalry with hunting supporters turning out to back their candidate on Sunday. Thirteen days to go…

Poll: UKIP Lead Increasing in Rochester & Strood

rochester-strood-survation-poll

The latest poll has UKIP 15% ahead of the Tories in Rochester & Strood.

The gap is increasing…

UKIP Get Thumped in Their Target Seat

UKIP have been given a wake up call in Thurrock, losing heavily to Labour in a council by-election last night. Despite constituency polling putting UKIP’s parliamentary candidate Tim Aker in first place in the seat, Labour won West Thurrock and South Stifford by a thumping 50% to UKIP’s 35%. Thurrock is right up there among UKIP’s top target seats, where incumbent Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price has a majority of 92 and the Labour candidate, carpet-bagging former SpAd Polly Billington, is struggling to make an impact. UKIP should have won Heywood and Middleton but fell 600 votes short because they just didn’t have the resources on the ground. At every test so far, UKIP’s field operation has been their biggest weakness and the old parties will be clinging to that next year. If the promised earthquake is to happen in May, they need to get their act together and start spending big bucks on their campaign infrastructure. 

UPDATE: UKIP sources say Labour were so scared there were shadow cabinet ministers out in Thurrock campaigning for a council by-election.

Long Old Rochester Slog Begins

Incoming kitchen sink. The Tories are offering a massive choice to the people of Rochester: which Kent(ish) female councillor would you like to be their candidate?

“Kelly Tolhurst is a life-long resident of Medway and was elected to the council in 2011. She is the cabinet member for school improvement. She now runs her own marine survey business in Rochester and has served as a local councillor for over three years. In a statement, the Conservative association said she had “seen the strain that excessive immigration has put on housing and our local services.” Anna Firth lives in Sevenoaks with her husband and three children and was brought up in Essex. Formerly a barrister, she now serves on the Sevenoaks council. She was shortlisted for the Thanet South constituency but lost out to Craig Mackinlay. She is a governor of Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls.”

While every voter in the seat will be invited to take part, the pool is somewhat limited. Labour already have a female candidate in place and knocking on doors.

Dates for your diary:

October 23 – candidate announced.

November 20 – polling day.

November 21 – panic stations for someone.

UKIP remain bookies’ favourite but plenty of time for the wheels to come off…

Ashcroft Poll’s Margin of Error Was 17%

lord-ashcroft-H+M

On Monday newbie pollster Michael Ashcroft told us that Labour was 19% ahead in Heywood & Middleton. His polling in the marginals has also consistently forecast Labour making a remarkably strong showing. Something that over in CCHQ Grant Shapps and Lynton Crosby bitterly dispute. They will take some consolation that Ashcroft’s margin of error on Thursday in Labour’s favour was 17%…

Your By-Election Results in Full

Clacton:

Douglas Carswell (UKIP) 21,113 (59.75%)
Giles Watling (Con) 8,709 (24.64%)
Tim Young (Lab) 3,957 (11.20%)
Chris Southall (Green) 688 (1.95%)
Andy Graham (LibDem) 483 (1.37%)

Heywood and Middleton:

Liz McInnes (Lab) 11,633 (40.9%)
John Bickley (UKIP) 11,016 (38.7)
Iain Gartside (Con) 3,496 (12.3%)
Anthony Smith (LibDem) 1,457 (5.1%)

UKIP lost Heywood and Middleton by 617 votes, voting Tory let Labour in…

By-Election Results

You read it here first;

  • Douglas Carswell becomes UKIP’s first elected MP, winning in Clacton.
  • Labour hold Heywood and Middleton.

Details to follow…

Carswell and Farage Solve Major Policy Disagreement

Last month Douglas Carswell revealed one issue he was at odds with with Nigel Farage:

“I have discovered one major policy difference with Nigel Farage. After a busy few hours meeting and greeting local people, he prefers to pop into a local café. I keep on trying to get him to go to McDonald’s for a McFlurry.”

Today in Clacton they settled their differences:

Whipping up a storm…

UKIP Call in the Cavalry

Meanwhile, in Clacton:

Planning on staying up pasture bedtime for the results tonight?

If things go to plan, Douglas Carswell won’t have waited furlong to get back to Westminster…

Pics via @raheemjkassam.

Today’s By-Elections: The Numbers

In 2010 UKIP decided not to run a candidate against Douglas Carswell, clearing the way for the Tories to beat Labour by 53% to 25% and hand Carswell a majority of 12,068. Some last minute jitters/expectation management in Clacton from a source close to Carswell suggest he is nowhere near the 32 point lead given to him by Lord Ashcroft’s most recent poll in the constituency. UK Polling Report‘s demographics show Clacton has a high proportion of over 65s, a high proportion not in work and very low numbers of ethnic minorities:

Meanwhile up in Heywood and Middleton:

Labour are on course for a comfortable hold despite a party aide today telling the Staggers Miliband’s attitude to the constituency has been “deeply frustrating” and that they are “completely out of touch” with the concerns of local voters. Even the uninspiring Liz McInnes should be able to defend the late Jim Dobbin’s 5,971 majority. Here are the demographics from UK Polling Report:

We should have the results in the early hours…

Good Morning, It’s By-Election Day

The polls are open down in Clacton and up in Heywood and Middleton, with the results expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning. When Guy News travelled to Clacton high street we couldn’t find a single punter planning on voting Tory:

Barring a major upset Douglas Carswell will be a UKIP MP this time tomorrow, and Labour will be welcoming their race card-playing Unite-backed candidate Liz McInnes to Westminster.[…] Read the rest

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