23 Sep 2014

Could Ukip win a by-election from Labour too?

Is Labour in serious trouble in the north west seat of Heywood and Middleton, where the party faces a by-election on 9 October?

Until now, all the attention has been on the strong possibility of Ukip winning in Clacton, where the former Conservative Douglas Carswell (pictured below right), who defected to Ukip last month, is widely expected to become the party’s first elected MP.

That, of course, would be hugely embarrassing to David Cameron, and give Ukip a great fillip, with the real possibility of further defections by Tory MPs.

Far more interesting, in my view, is the Lancashire constituency of Heywood and Middleton, whose MP Jim Dobbin died a fortnight ago. It looks ripe for plucking by Ukip.

Local Labour sources certainly think so. “Shadow cabinet members are sh****** themselves about losing,” one Labour figure has told me.

At the last election, Ukip got just 2.6 per cent. Hardly promising. But the BNP got 7.0 per cent. With the collapse of the BNP as a party, you would now expect Ukip to get most of the combined vote, a useful base of 8-9 per cent.

The Conservative vote in 2010 was 27.2 per cent, and the story is that the Tories plan a pretty weak campaign in the  hope their voters might help Ukip embarrass Labour, and therefore negate – or more than negate – Ukip’s expected success in Clacton. Not so much a score draw between Tories and Labour, as a score draw away from home.

At least in Clacton the Tories will be able to say it was inevitable they’d lose to a popular former MP who was once of theirs.

Member of Parliament Carswell and Farage, leader of Britain's UKIP party, walk through the town centre at Clacton-on-Sea in south east England

The Lib Dems got 22.7 per cent in Heywood and Middleton in 2010, and on the form of recent by-elections will lose about 20 per cent of that this time. Labour expect to pick up most of the lost Lib Dem votes to add to Jim Dobbin’s 40.1 per cent.

I wouldn’t be so confident if I were Labour. Until 2010 the Liberal Democrats were the main party for protest voters; now Ukip are the main place for protest voters, even though the two parties are miles apart on most areas of policy.

The demographics in Heywood and Middleton are good for Ukip, too. A substantial white working-class vote, but unlike nearby Lancashire mill town areas such as Oldham and Rochdale, the ethnic vote is small.

What’s more, the constituency is actually part of the Rochdale borough, which has been beset by child sex abuse scandals which were covered up or ignored by the local Labour and Liberal Democrat establishments.  More ammunition for Ukip, as we saw in May’s local elections in Rotherham.

And Ukip has a strong candidate in John Bickley, a former Labour supporter  who stood for them in Wythenshawe earlier this year. Bickley claims on his leaflets that he was brought up on a council estate in Middleton.  That’s a bit strange, for he claimed in Wythenshawe that he’d been brought up on a council estate there!

The two claims can be reconciled, of course, but it seems terribly lucky that Ukip have a candidate brought up in the only two north west seats to have had by-elections this year!

Despite that, on a brief visit yesterday to Heywood, Ukip had already made an impact with voters. I only spoke to a couple of dozen people, I suppose, but many were unimpressed by Ed Miliband. “A waste of space,” is how one voter described the Labour leader.

I’d want to spend a lot more time in more of the seat before making any predictions, but the ingredients for a shock Ukip win would seem to be there. We won’t really know until people start doing serious polls.

With all its attention on Scotland, then on its conference in Manchester, Labour may have been too distracted to realise what a threat Ukip is in Heywood and Middleton, only 40 minutes by car from the Manchester conference centre.

If I were Nigel Farage (pictured above left), I would take the gamble of doubling my money, take the risk of thinking Clacton is in the bag, and divert a substantial part of Ukip resources to the Lancashire seat. And before that, I’d urge Lord Ashcroft to do a poll in the seat to generate  momentum.

And what a win for Ukip it might be, if it came on the same day as winning Clacton – evidence that Ukip was a threat to both Labour and the Tories.

And three weeks later, on 30 October,  comes the by-election to elect a new police commissioner in South Yorkshire, following the protracted resignation of Shaun Wright over child sex abuse in Rotherham. Ukip must surely be favourite to win the PCC by-election – yet more embarrassment in Ed Miliband’s home patch, and the home area of several other shadow cabinet members.

Three Ukip by-election victories in one month. And in diverse areas. What would have been unthinkable a few months ago now looks distinctly possible.

It would be an incredible boost to Farage and his colleagues just six months before the general election campaign. And add to Ukip efforts to oblige broadcasters to treat them as the fourth party in British politics.

For the first time, I am starting to think Ukip could end up with a vote next May above 10 per cent and maybe in the teens.

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40 reader comments

  1. wingless says:

    That’s the name of the game. We’re not Tories and we’re not labour, our party is a genuine people’s movement and those people come from all sides of the political divide. Dave will tell you we’re fruitcakes with only one policy and a one man ban leadership. Milli will say we’re high right wing and will somehow hurt the working class.
    Sorry boys, we ARE the working class, at all levels. We are not professional politicians, few degrees and little experience in politics. We do however live in the real world, not the Westminster bubble and that’s the thing they hate most about us. We don’t follow their rules, we refuse to join the club. We are the plebs at the gate. Shock – horror!
    Think about it. Scotland had to vote for a generation. In May you can vote for 5 years, at most.
    If you don’t like us you can change again quite soon. Meanwhile you can escape from the EU, get back control of our borders, cut back lottery win pay in the public sector, stop HS2, cease excessive overseas aid, decline to fight foreign wars, bring back grammar schools and technical collages, recall bad MPs and councillors, establish an English parliament, reform and reduce Westminster and so on, see the new manifesto soon. There is a once in a generation aspect, it’s the first chance we have to try something viable and new for 100 years, it has to be worth a punt.

  2. Chris Gillibrand says:

    UKIP are already the third party…the LibDems are heading for oblivion. By the time that the two main parties have slugged themselves, with leaders too weak to land killer punches, during the General Election, the UKIP vote will be on 20 + percent. Cameron making an issue out of English votes will only benefit UKIP.

  3. Jeffrey Sommer says:

    The British people are tired of politicians who are all alike: posh, insincere, and loyal only to each other. Cameron and Miliband are two sides of the same devalued coin. The Tories have abandoned all semblance of genuine conservatism, and Labour is made up of lords and technocrats who not only have never gotten their hands dirty, but secretly despise those who do. As for the Liberal Democrats, they are hopelessly in love with the bureaucrats in Brussels. None of them will learn not to act like a robot, and they will have no clue why when Nigel Farage becomes Prime Minister. Personally, I hope it’s soon.

  4. David Platt says:

    Well done Michael- the first of the hacks to finally realise that THIS is the important by election on 9 October. Clacton is already priced into the market. It really will be a mould changer if it topples- and an utter catastrophe for Miliband. What you should also have looked at are the strong seconds UKIP have been polling in locals there- and at the Euro result. The BNP and Liberal vote will collapse- largely to UKIP. If the Tories look like they are sagging, then there will be a big tactical switch from there too. This is game on …..

  5. Mark McIntyre says:

    Answer – to the headline – hope so !

  6. Bruce says:

    It’s clear today UKIP are the fourth party – behind the SNP.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      Not in Middleton, they’re not.

  7. Paul Rogan says:

    I agree that this by election could be a real game changer and a very interesting sign post for the General Election next year. I also feel this is not just about protesting about the Political Classes although these ‘classes’ certainly deserve to lose their heads. It is also about regaining the political integrity in our own country. Unless next years General Election brings real sucess to Ukip, I fear we will have lost the chance to stop a Brussels takeover, not just for a Scottish Generaion, but forever!

  8. Philip says:

    Perhaps UKIP will start to unveil some policies – not least economic policies which might just show working class voters that this party doesn’t have their interests at heart. Similarly, leaving the EU will only impoverish us…and when the UK is impoverished, we know who feels it most. They offer rose-tinted nostalgia & wishful thinking. they may have a charismatic leader & have caught the mood – but they are backward-looking, negative and if they ever achieve serious power, would be a long-term disaster for the UK – even worse than what we’ve been going through.

    1. Barrie says:

      Yes, Philip, leaving the EU will impoverish us – in exactly the same way that we suffered those catastrophic financial consequences that you and all the other idiot europhiles warned us about if we didn’t ditch the Pound and join the brave new Euro currency.
      Oh no, wait a minute…

    2. ian says:

      My dear philip you clearly have not been on this earth long enough to have endured decades of misrule by the two discredited parties,aided and abetted by the euro back side licking lib dems that have ruled this country over this period. Blair being the one who did more to disunite the people during his disgraceful term of office. We as a nation do not not need the european union to survive, far from it we have the skills and the talent, all that is needed is real strong political leadership, leaders with integrity, honesty and the desire to do what is best for this country, and not looking after their own self interests. I am 66 and believe me the rose tinted glasses disappeared many years ago, and we are already heading for disaster, and god forbid that we wake up to a labour government after the next election, the tories would be marginaly better. WHAT A CHOICE. Vote ukip and give someone else a chance to lead this great country of ours.

    3. Jack says:

      True Phillip. They don’t realise that paid maternity leave will be scrapped, higher taxes for the 88% poorest people and privatisation of the NHS. They only see immigrants are bad, anti-establishment propaganda.

    4. Ian Stuart-Martin says:

      Totally agree Philip.

      UKIP seems to be against things rather than for things, which definitely sounds like the easy option if your policies are plucked out of thin air after a few pints.

      Hopefully, once people realise that they are being lead back to the dark ages by Farage and his nostagia cowboys, they will go back to not voting again or rejoin the nasty wing of the geriatric Tories.

      1. Simon Nicklin says:

        At 55, too have lived through years of Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem deceit, lies and empty promises. I have witnessed years of impoverishment wished upon people who do not deserve it…. As has been said, Cameron and Milliband are two sides of the same coin and to add to that I would also state that Clegg is an absolute waste of space…. student loans and his pathetic apology springs to mind… I hope you enjoyed your brieft stint in coalition, Silly Nicky’ Now, let’s unite and let’s give this great country of ours a chance for a political revolution; it is time we gave someone else with credibility a chance. Good luck Ukip.

    5. michael says:

      Difficult to see how we could be impoverished while saving £10 billion on the EU subsidy…

  9. ian says:

    I and my wife have voted conservative all our lives we are both 66, NEVER AGAIN. We gave cameron a last chance at the last general election, and again he has thrown away the opportunity to connect with ordinary people, he clearly doe not know how to, so goodbye tired stale old 2 party politics ( the lib dems are not even worth a mention) and hello to someone who has stuck to his guns whilst being ridiculed by the establishment and that shameful monoply called the bbc, for years. We and our friends and families will support UKIP now, at the two by elections the general election and ever after. Thank you Nigel for a large breath of fresh air.

  10. Ukip mad says:

    Ukip 15% in may if not more. Vote ukip

    1. Ian Stuart-Martin says:

      Not on your life sunshine.

      1. Domain! says:

        You are brainwashed sunshine,I wonder what leftie party you espouse and work for?

      2. Ian Stuart-Martin says:

        Spoken like a true cyberkipper. I could hope for no less. Thankfully the Cult of Farage will eventually burn itself out in its own Bonfire of the Insanities.

        In the meantime i trust that Nige and his Meps will have their collective snouts in the trough they claim to loath. No surprise there then.

  11. Ian R Thorpe says:

    From a nearby constituency which also has a large Pakistani community I can say that while Lancastrians are aware that only a small minority of Pakistani males were involved in the grooming and abuse scandal and the whole nation should not be judged by their crimes, the contempt for poor whites shown by Labour party officials and elected representatives in deliberately ignoring and covering up the crimes has alienated many traditional Labour voters.
    Whether it will be enough I could not say but if the protest vote that went Lib Dem last time goes to UKIP and Conservatives vote tactically, who knows.
    It will be worth a modest waher on the Kipper candidate.

    1. Tony says:

      Ian, the problem with the grooming issue is not confined to Lancashire & Greater Manchester. It has been proven in many other towns and cities with high levels of ethnics from a Pakistani background – places including Rotherham, Oxford and Nottingham. For too long, the “race card” and political correctness have allowed a core of people who claim their descent from the Indian sub-continent to behave outside the norms of our society.
      There are other comments here that indicate the disatisfaction of the general public with the political and twittering classes based around central London and it is apparent that the three traditional parties still see themselves as the only ones with some god-given right to rule. The Scottish issue showed there has to be change; the political class has committed to change for Scotland (well, at least until next month) but is avoiding facing up to the concerns of the other “home nations” whose presence outweighs the Scots by almost 9:1. Labour’s evasiveness on this topic will also count against them at the ballot box.

  12. grumpy jon says:

    It will be interesting to see just how long the establishment can manage to prevent anti-immigration voices being heard in Parliament, in this wonderful “democracy.” Not of course that UKIP is an anti-immigration party, just the nearest we’ve been allowed,so far. All the self-perpetuating elite are happy to see the most heavily supported party in the May EU elections, without a voice in the (ahem) Mother of Parliaments. As with the suppression of Brits’ concerns over 7/7, the “English Riots”, the murder of Lee Rigby, and the rotherham and many other Asian mass rape gangs, we can see the continuation of establishment efforts to blank out the growing popularity of UKIP, as seen in the Scottish Independence campaign, and the public non-debate on Proportional Representation. The teeming mind of Cameron unsurprisingly, has failed to learn that, had he shown just a fragment of statesmanship early in the campaign in Scotland, and that he took pride in this extension of real democracy, and that, while he favoured a continuing union,he took most seriously his duty to foster the expression of Scottish opinion, and that he had plans in place carry out a smooth handover, in the event of a “Yes” vote, then much of the bitterness of the debate might have been avoided, and the prospect of a fresh referendum might not already be seen on the horizon. That’s right posh boy; do all you know. Limit your thinking on key issues to “How can I get this beat?

    1. JP56 says:

      It is a glib statement to connect voting for UKIP with support for the Yes campaign in Scotland.
      The Yes vote in Scotland may have had distrust for Westminster as a factor but it was primarily about an inclusive form of nationalism with a hint of socialism which did not rely upon dislike for immigration, a desire to leave the EU, rejection of climate change and a raft of right wing economic and social policies as espoused by UKIP. Indeed at its core the Yes campaign wished to break away from the UK and Nigel Farage campaigned for a No vote!
      Several commentators south of the border have made the same analogy only reinforcing the fact that you and they did not examine the debate in Scottish Referendum in any depth – possibly a factor why so many in Scotland had contempt for much of the arrogant and ill informed coverage from south of the border.(Channel 4 news excepted from much of this criticism)

  13. Volunteer28 says:

    Vote Labour, Get Rotherham

  14. Ken Tyrrell says:

    Now Cameron wants to take us into another war because he says we are at risk.
    Is this another dodgy dossier?
    Give us back our borders and deport any dangerous people back whence they came from.Please God take us out of the EU and all its ramifications and let us live as proud people once more.
    Vote UKIP

  15. MarlowM1 says:

    Anything that shakes up the status quo must be a good thing. The situation in nearby Manchester is terrifying. Labour in control for 40 years, for the last 15 a sort of Tory-lite New Labour council and for the last year no councillors other than Labour. And now talk of MORE power being devolved! As it is some of the stuff that is going on in Manchester is worrying.

  16. steve. says:

    Looks good for ukip.
    Can i just add to the comment about ukip being a 1 policy party and what i think.
    The other 3 grey men cant offer anything.
    Changing a policy means that you have to deflect monies from somewhere else.
    By leaving the EU, we will save BILLIONS.
    This is the money ukip will use to make drastic changes in this Country.
    The other partys cant do this.
    They have to use the money, or waste, with what they have.
    Enough is enough.
    This is why ukip bang on about the EU and people proclaiming us a 1 trick pony.
    We can change the course of this Country.
    We MUST leave the corrupt EU.
    The other 3 are tired and clueless.
    Farage is a breath of freshair.
    He tells the truth and has done for years.
    The country is finally waking up.
    Its ukip for me.

  17. Ian Stuart-Martin says:

    UKIP supporters are a truely vociferous bunch worthy of a good kicking (metaphorically speaking). They seem to hark back to some golden age (that never was) when bread was a penny a pint, the sun always shone, and Johnny Foreigners stayed where they belonged, which apparently is NOT HERE, although it’s OK if we go there.

    UKIP seems to pander to the lowest common denominator in that most appalling of species the little englander, who seems to believe that s/he will be taken to the Promised Land (formerly known as the Rule Britannia) by a millionaire former stockbroker who panders to collective myopia for reasons of absolute self interest.

    Farage is a total menace, his cronies belong in the Middle Ages.

    God help us if this is shape of politics to come.

    1. Barrie says:

      Ian, wipe the spittle from your mouth, calm down, and tell us what YOU believe in.
      For my part, I certainly have no memory of bread ever being a penny a pint. My principal reason for supporting UKIP is because that seems to be our only hope of escape from the clutches of the EU, which is dying even as it becomes more bloated by the day.
      And please don’t warn me of the economic disaster that exit from the EU would visit upon the UK; we all remember the boy who cried wolf when the decision was being made about whether to ditch the Pound and participate in the new Euro currency. Some people will never learn.

  18. Jack says:

    UKIP supporters have been rather vague on the issues outlined by their leadership

  19. Andrew Dundas says:

    “Grooming” by bad men was first uncovered in Keighley and action called for by the Labour MP, Ann Cryer.
    Michael, you may recall that Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, stood against Ann Cryer who had led a vigorous anti-grooming campaign. That was in the 2005 election. Griffin played the race and grooming cards, hoping to overturn the Labour’s marginal seat of Keighley and return a Tory MP.
    The result of that BNP intervention is that Ann was returned to Parliament with a spectacularly increased majority. Labour voters knew very well that a vote for the BNP was a vote for a Tory government.
    Labour voters also know that a vote for UKIP is really a vote for a Tory Government with its perverted campaigns against the poorest and most vulnerable families. Labour voters are not mugs: they won’t want Tories in Westminster. QED: they won’t want to support UKIP, any more than the BNP.

  20. Trevor pettitt says:

    What an outrageous slur on UKIP to suggest that BNP votes automatically would go to them and would act as a base to build from.

    But I sincerely hope that that the outcome of the election is UKIP, a wholly non racist party, because the future of our nation depends on their continued explosion onto the British political stage.

    As Nigel said today UKIP are not about the left or the right, but right and wrong and by God there are many, many wrongs to be righted before our nation has any hope for the future

    1. Jack says:

      No Ukip voter has answered my question on policies yet. Not just, one liners, some detail like the green party manifesto in 2010.

      1. Jerry says:

        For me there are a couple of policies I care deeply about on which UKIP are the only party big enough to deal with.

        I spent some time looking at how other countries in Europe are faring and was horrified. If you look at what is happening in other major European cities the European social engineering experiment is clearly the most disastrous thing to befall Europe since the last war.

        All of the other three parties are committed to delivering that for my children and its appalling.

        I do not believe it is physically possible for UKIP to set a more dangerous course than the one we are on currently.

        At this point if UKIP turned round and said they were going to replace Sterling with Jelly Beans I would probably still vote for them.

  21. Jerry says:

    Hi am an ex Labor voter who will be voting for UKIP at the next election.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      Hello Jerry
      Splitting the left is just what Cameron wants. The policy that’s working hardest for the UK is the devaluation of the pound that has enabled us to export more and keep the wheels of commerce turning with benefits to growth of GDP and of jobs. [Farage just wants to make a name for himself].
      That policy of allowing the value of the pound to fall began in November 2007 creating more work and jobs. True, we’ve not enjoyed an incomes boom (unless you’re a pensioner like me). Whereas the policies of Euroland are pursued by the right-wing policies of austerity that both Osborne and Cameron admire. But they’re stuck with the policies of the previous government that you now wish to reject.
      Please don’t split the left! You’ll regret it if you do.

  22. Buddy says:

    VOTE CONS….GET CAMERON
    VOTE LABOUR….GET MILLIBAND
    VOTE UKIP…And get complete change for this Country.
    Ditch the 3 grey men.
    As for ukips policies and the normal Labour slurring and lies….Wait untill they are released.
    Ukip DO NOT want to privatise the NHS.
    Go on any of our sites and you will see the real facts.
    Interesting to note the disgusting lies made by a labour MEP over disabilities ukip policy.
    This just goes to prove how frightened these so called politicians are of ukip.
    We are on the march.
    VOTE UKIP….GET UKIP.
    We are here to stay so grt used to it.
    The Country want change.
    Vote these country wreckers out.!

    1. Ian Stuart-Martin says:

      That was a partly politicial broadcast on behalf of Ukip and the Nigel Farage Toadies Fan Club.

      Listeners are assured that absolutely no truths were used in this broadcast.

      Thank You.

  23. jack says:

    By billions, please clarify. It would be very helpful in forming a logical argument against the EU.

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