Tim Farron’s big gamble in the Oldham W & R by-election

Tim Farron’s big gamble in the Oldham W & R by-election

If they fail to make progress it’ll be his failure

The most interesting Oldham by election development this weekend has been the decision by new Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, to take a high profile role there.

This is the first such contest since his party’s disastrous performance on May 7th, the first since the end of the coalition and the first for him personally as leader.

The party had been hoping for the initial by-election of this parliament to have been in more fertile territory and there were high hopes that there might be a vacancy in Edinburgh West but an immediate contest there is looking less likely.

Farron, whose main pitch in the leadership election was his campaigning prowess, has to take opportunities when then come and based on their GE2015 performance (a lost deposit with 3.7% of the vote) OWR looks less than promising.

LAB’s selection of the council leader could just possibly make the yellow task easier. For in spite of everything the yellows are still the main opposition on the council (good for bar charts) so their councillors should have a handle on local issues that might resonate. They should also have voter data in at least parts of the constituency.

    In by-elections the government of the country is not at stake and as we’ve seen in the past anything can happen

Any problem or any controversial decision that the council has made can be used to attack LAB generally and their candidate, the council leader, in particular. They’ve already stated focusing on the allegedly extravagant cost of a new carpet in his office.

LAB is making Osborne’s tax credits an early issue while UKIP will focus on immigration. The LDs will try to keep it local.

Farron should be helped by the fact that he’s a Lancastrian and talks with a Lancashire accent. Also he doesn’t live too far away and his presence will encourage activists from the region and wider afield to take part. The party could also helped by the new longer campaign period that’s now in place giving time for things to develop.

The first target is to save their deposit and I think that will be achieved. What happens beyond that I don’t know. As we get closer we might see some interesting other betting markets apart from the actual winner.

Mike Smithson

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