The signs are that today will see the writ being moved for the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election to fill the vacancy created by the success of the recall petition that has seen the sitting Conservative MP, Chris Davies, forced out of his seat. This follows his conviction and sentencing for expenses fraud. The date looks set to be August 1st bang in the middle of the holiday season.
Extraordinarily it was confirmed yesterday that Mr Davies has been selected as the Tory candidate in the upcoming fight which on the face of it seems a very brave decision. He can be literally described as a “convict” by his opponents and the Tory Party approach to Law and Order can be portrayed as being bit lapse when it comes to one of its own.
What makes this really interesting is that the by-election will take place in the week after both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will have new leaders. It also means that the by-election campaign will run parallel to the leadership campaigns that are taking place in those two parties.
No doubt Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson for the Tories as well as Ed Davey and Jo Swinson for the Lib Dems will be keen to make sure that they are photographed working hard in the by-election campaigns.
If the betting markets have this right then the Lib Dems are about to win back a seat that they gained in a 1987 by-election which was lost at the 2015 general election. But betting markets can be wrong as we saw a few weeks ago in Peterborough where the Brexit party had been odds on to take the seat but Labour hung on. At Peterborough, though, LAB disowned their MP as soon as she was convicted and put a new candidate up in the by-election.
This is the first by-election in a Conservative seat since GE2017 and since then the Tory national polling position has sharply declined while the LDs are doing better than at any time since entering the coalition in 2010.
Because of the shear size of the seat, it is the largest in England and Wales in terms of the area covered, it is a very difficult place to campaign. There are no towns bigger than 10k population and in many parts the mobile signals are almost non-existent.
No doubt a range of betting markets will emerge.