Why my money’s NOT going on Paul Nuttall
Over the past week there’s been a rush to bet on UKIP in the Stoke Central by-election. This has gathered apace and now the best you can get is about 11/8. This has been driven by the demographics of the seat, the way it went so strongly for LEAVE at the referendum, and the fact that the leader of UKIP has decided to be the candidate.
I’m not convinced and think that LAB is still within a good chance of holding it. The betting pattern looks very similar to the Oldham West by-election in December 2015 which is not too far from Heywood & Middleton where the purples came within a whisker in 2014. The assumption at Oldham was that Corbyn becoming Labour leader made the red team vulnerable. UKIP tried to make him the issue but LAB selected a JC-sceptic as candidate who was also the well respected local Council leader. The effect was that LAB increased their vote by 7%.
Having Paul Nuttall as a candidate might be a mixed blessing. Clearly he will act as a spearhead for UKIP volunteers and activists but he will suffer from not being a local and in Westminster by elections a solid link to the constituency can matter enormously.
The Labour shortlist it appears, consists of contenders with strong local links. That will be in contrast to both Nuttall and the outgoing MP, Tristram Hunt. Amidst much controversy he was “parachuted” into the seat at GE2010 and this created a lot of resentment. That the turnout at GE2015 was below 50% and the smallest in the entire country has been partly attributed to this.
The current form by-election team, the LDs, have got onto this feeling of detachment – just look at their leaflet above and the message “Labour have taken us for granted”.
The Tories do not seem to be making Stoke Central a priority but you cant assume that UKIP will pick up their votes.