Another good second place won’t be enough
The media frenzy and the clamour for Farage to be the Ukip candidate will continue until he decides one way or the other.
My assumption is that given the possibility that Newark has been on the cards for nearly a year that all the parties would have carried out preliminary work and have come to an assessment about their strategy. Ukip must have an idea of the terrain.
The challenge for them is timing. By the new arrangements for when by-election should be called this cannot take place before or on May 22nd – the day of the Euros and local elections for 58% of voters across the UK.
So assuming that the purples do well in the Euros the by-election would be seen as a key indicator as to whether their surge is continuing. That’s where it gets very tricky. The last thing they want is for the bubble to burst within weeks of their expected May 22 successes.
With Farage as candidate any outcome in Newark less than a victory would be seen as a defeat. The party’s had some good by-election performances in terms of vote shares – but for Westminster seats you need to come top and that’s eluded them.
Their best ever in a Westminster seat was at Eastleigh fourteen months ago when there was a great clamour for Farage to be the flag carrier. They came pretty close and their 27.8% was the highest the party has ever achieved in a Westminster seat.
I’d be very surprised if Farage does go for it – but then one of his great characteristics is his ability to surprise.