September 17 2014 Latest news:
Monday, September 1, 2014
Tory chiefs in Clacton say they have many potential candidates ready to take on UKIP defector Douglas Carswell in a by-election - despite latest opinion polls suggesting he has a huge lead.
Voters in the town will be going to the polls after Mr Carswell defected from the Conservatives to join UKIP and resigned from his seat last week.
A Survation poll conducted over the weekend gave UKIP a 44% lead over the Conservatives, with the Tories slumping 33 points to 20% compared to their 2010 general election result.
But some reports suggesting the Tories would not compete against Mr Carswell in the by-election - with claims there is little appetite for it among party activists and fears it could split the vote leading to a Labour victory - have been dismissed.
Simon Martin-Redman, chairman of the Clacton Conservative Association, said it would definitely field a candidate, and whoever it was would not be forced upon them by the party HQ.
He said: “It is challenging because we were not expecting it and we will have to choose someone quickly, but we will have a lot of help from the party.
“There’s no way as local chairman I will have a candidate pushed upon us. There will be a democratic process here, we will not be told who to have.
“I have had a lot of phone calls from people offering themselves as candidates. There are a lot of people who are prepared to fight for Clacton for the Conservatives.
“You would be surprised at the number of people who are so disgusted at what he has done. Some people think he is a turncoat, some people are more voluble in their language.
“There are a lot of people who are not happy. Rest assured there will be a massive campaign and we will be fighting it robustly.
“In any election there are those who vote party and those who vote person. Some will say ‘Good old Mr Carswell he stood up for his principles’ but I know a lot of people saying the opposite, that he is a traitor.
“Douglas Carswell, up until a few days ago, was my MP and a friend. He is not a stupid man. But he has chosen to fight an election with UKIP and as a Conservative we will be fighting against him.
“It was only two weeks ago he was talking to us about fighting UKIP. Douglas himself said the way we will be able to leave Europe is a referendum which only the Conservative Party can give us – Labour won’t and UKIP can’t because they will never have a majority to govern, so the rhetoric is a complete waste of time without the ability to do it.
“What I don’t understand is that Nigel Farage last week when he got the selection for Thanet he said it was fantastic that Thanet people have the right to select their own candidate and it was democratic. But Mr Carswell resigns and said he would stand but the local UKIP association had already chosen their candidate. It goes against everything they have said about the process.”
Following Thursday’s shock resignation of Mr Carswell, he and UKIP leader Nigel Farage were on the streets of Clacton and Frinton on Saturday canvassing support.
However the Conservatives were also pounding the streets, with MEP Vicky Ford and Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris joining party activists in both towns.