2 Jun 2014

Newark – under siege from parliamentary forces

Am in a sunny Newark to catch up with David Cameron’s fourth trip and check if there’s a late Ukip surge.

You get a lot of postal votes up here so late surge potential is a bit reduced. I just heard the Ukip candidate, Roger Helmer, telling voters that running the Tories close would be a great result, which is true but not what candidates who think they’re going to win normally say.

He was talking in Newark’s main square, which has turned into a political circus today. Tory MPs have flooded in, but Newark’s no stranger to sieges by parliamentary forces.

There are Ukip activists from round the country, including Annie from north of Inverness, who seems to have legendary status in Ukip campaigns and wafts around the square in a home-made sandwich-board whispering “Rule Britannia.”

The main square is a thicket of camera tripods. One market-trader is selling eggs at 50p a go to throw at politicians. It’s a target-rich environment.

Talking of the military, I’ve met a Monte Cassino veteran from the British Army, born in 1918, who told me all about his father’s memory of the Boer War. Just before that, I met a German veteran of the 12th SS Panzer Division who was captured in Normandy in 1944 and ended up settling in Britain. Both old soldiers, from different sides of the war, were sceptical about the EU. But both were sticking with the Conservatives.

The latest Lord Ashcroft poll suggests the Tories are reasonably safe. That would be a massive shot in the arm for David Cameron. Nigel Farage said he’d escaped almost “unscathed” from the European elections and local elections and that Newark might change that. On the basis of Lord Ashcroft’s poll, David Cameron’s luck continues.

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