Bar Hill on Cambridgeshire (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 32, Liberal Democrats 14, United Kingdom Independence Party 12, Labour 7, Independents 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservatives 1,175 (45%), United Kingdom Independence Party 570 (22%), Labour 352 (14%), Green 242 (9%), Liberal Democrat 219 (8%), Monster Raving Loony 28 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Martin Hale (UKIP), Lynda Harford (Con), Claudia Roland (Green), Alex Smith (Lab), Fiona Whelan (Lib Dem)
Oswestry East on Shropshire (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 9, Independent 4, National Health Action 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 584, 453 (44%)
Independent 611 (26%)
Labour 551 (23%)
British National Party 169 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Duncan Kerr (Green), Claire Norris (Lab), John Price (Con), Amanda Woof (Lib Dem)
The by-elections this evening are interesting as they mark the two previous high points in UKIP’s recent surge. First the two by-elections on the counties last contested in 2013 where UKIP make their first incursions onto the political map with 12 councillors elected in Cambridgeshire (on a vote share of 21%) and although they failed to win any seats in Shropshire they did manage to poll 11% of the vote.
So no doubt the eagle eyed amongst you will notw that UKIP are fielding a candidate in Cambridgeshire but not in Shropshire. Does this suggest that UKIP feel more comfortable attacking the Conservatives in the East of England rather than on the Welsh borders and if so, does this mean that Peterborough (a seat that Labour have to win to be on course for an overall majority) is going to feel the full force of UKIP but a seat like The Wrekin (the only seat in Shropshire where Labour are in second) will be a UKIP pass.
Mark Hall on Harlow (UKIP Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 17, Conservatives 11, United Kingdom Independence Party 5 (Labour majority of 1)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
United Kingdom Independence Party 662, 646 (38%)
Labour 602, 599 (35%)
Conservatives 346, 346 (20%)
Liberal Democrats 137, 124 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Mark Gough (UKIP), Danny Purton (Lab), Lesley Rideout (Lib Dem), Murray Sackwild (Green), Jane Steer (Con)
Harlow marks the second prong of UKIP’s attack that saw them win the Euros last year and provided the springboard of the defection and by-election wins in Clacton and Rochester. And UKIP’s rise in Harlow has literally come out of nowhere. Back in 2003, Harlow was a hung council but it wasn’t the Liberal Democrats who were in the balance of power, it was Labour (Con 12, Lib Dem 12, Lab 9).
However by 2007, it was the Liberal Democrats who were the third party in Harlow but in 2008, the Conservatives gained control by taking Labour to the cleaners and held control until 2012 when Labour made six gains and wiping out the Liberal Democrats in the process to take control and then came UKIP taking three seats from Labour and two from the Conservatives to become the new third force in Harlow politics and win the local area count at the Euros. With Harlow being another key seat for the election, UKIP will be gunning to hold this seat and prove, just three months from polling day that their breakthrough in 2013 and their continued strength in 2014 is here to stay in 2015.