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…