September 18 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson and Will Lodge
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Rebel MP Douglas Carswell will be looking to give Prime Minister David Cameron an unhappy birthday when voters in Clacton go to the polls next month.
A poll on the EADT website gives Douglas Carswell & UKIP a strong lead, as the Conservatives struggle 31 points behind.
We asked “How would you vote in the Clacton by-election?” and as of 5.30pm on Tuesday September 2 51% of people said they backed UKIP with Mr Carswell.
One-fifth backed the Tories with 18% supporting the Lib Dems, with both parties yet to declare their candidates.
Labour, who some suggest may benefit from a split in the right-wing vote, polled 8% with their candidate Tim Young.
The latest national indication, from Lord Ashcroft Polls, puts UKIP on 56%, 32 points ahead of the Tories on 24%, with Labour on 16% and Lib Dems and others on 2% each.
The date for a by-election in the coastal constituency has been set for October 9 - the day of the PM’s 48th birthday.
Mr Carswell, who took his party by surprise last week, announcing he was forcing a by-election after joining the UK Independence Party, has been out on the campaign trail since Friday.
His new leader Nigel Farage said: “On 9th October UKIP, Douglas and I hope to give David Cameron the one birthday present he doesn’t want, a UKIP MP elected to Westminster.
“Between now and then UKIP will be working hard every day to ensure Douglas is elected.”
Labour also claimed it was “off to a flying start”, after revealing its candidate Tim Young on Monday.
“We are ready. Our office is up and running, we have started door-knocking, and we were probably more prepared because we had a candidate in place unlike some of the other parties,” he said.
The Conservatives are yet to announce who they will choose to fight the seat, but it emerged last night that the selection process could be an open primary.
In what will be seen as a deliberate attempt to highlight the fact that Mr Carswell was parachuted in ahead of existing candidate Roger Lord, the Tories look poised to use what is seen as a more democratic method of selecting the party member who will fight for the seat.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday dismissed speculation that he would fight Mr Carswell in Essex, and asked by the BBC yesterday whether Mr Cameron had asked him to stand in Clacton, Mr Johnson said there had been “no serious approach”, adding: “I don’t think people think it would be the right thing for me to do, given that I’ve gone in for Uxbridge.”
Simon Martin-Redman, chairman of the Clacton Conservative Association, who has been tipped as their potential candidate, would not confirm or deny reports that he would fight the seat, claiming the selection had not been made, and it was not his decision.
But said: “I think it is important we have local knowledge, someone who understands the disparity within the constituency and understands the needs of the people apart from Frinton and Walton. If you were coming in from outside, unless you knew, it would be difficult to pick up very quickly,”.
He admitted that the party had been “caught out” last Thursday, when Mr Carswell made the shock announcement.
But he said that the party would to things “properly”. “I would rather we did that and took an extra day or two so that the local electorate will have a choice. The date has been set and it is all hands to the pump and get on with it. Just because we have not had a candidate announced does not mean we have not started to fight this election,” he added.
He also dismissed polls, which have put the Mr Carswell and UKIP on course for a victory, saying: “The poll at the weekend is ludicrous – from what we are getting on the streets it is neck and neck.”
The Liberal Democrats are yet to choose their candidate, while Terry Allen, who stood for Tendring First in Clacton in the 2005 general election, confirmed no-one from the party would be fighting the by-election in 37 days time.
The Frinton town councillor said: “We are objecting to it anyway because it will cost £100,000 and in eight months’ time it has all got to be done again.
“This is a fight between Mr Carswell and the Conservative, so let the national parties fight it out, we won’t be.
“If the circumstances were different we may consider it, but we don’t want to get involved in this.”