Friday, 10 October 2014

Ukip run Labour close

Farage Hopes to be Kingmaker after General Election

AFTER a recount,  Labour held the Heywood and Middleton seat by just 617 votes.  Nigel Farage said Ukip was 'ripping lumps' out of the party in its northern heartlands.
The Labour Party had thrown a lot at this by-election with its minor celebrities like Jim Murphy, Harriet Harman and Ed Balls coming up North to give their support to Liz McInnes.  In the end Ms McInnes held off the challenge of John Bickley, with 11,633 votes to the Ukip candidate's 11,016 - a swing of 17.65 per cent swing from Labour to Ukip.
Ms. McInnes appeared tongue tied when Andrew Neil asked her on Sky News why Ukip was 'so attractive to voters'.  She said rather feebly:  'You will have to ask Ukip' why!
The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, was more smooth and he told Sky News
'We are ripping lumps out of the old Labour vote in the north of England. The truth of what has happened in the North today is that if you are anywhere north of Birmingham, if you vote Conservative you get Labour.'
This poll was brought about by the death of Labour MP Jim Dobbin, who had held the seat since 1997.

Ukip has been campaigning strongly in the Lancashire constituency, in an effort to make inroads into Labour's northern rump.  But Ukip still lacks something of a true northern image, with some of its supporters seeming a bit too much like smartly dressed southerners.  Earlier in the campaign Northern Voices did have an interview with John Bickley the Ukip candidate, and he impressed me as intelligent, thoughtful, forensic, and well mannered.  Unfortunately, when I rang the phone number on the Ukip leaflet I was put through to a well spoken lass who could well have been a Devonshire milkmaid's daughter who thought that Mr. Bickley was fighting his campaign in somewhere called 'Lancs.', and because I have a strong northern accent she proceeded to spell the word out for me letter by letter:  'L'-'a'-'n'-'c'-'s'.  Only someone from down South would assume their was a place called 'Lancs.'  Eventually I got her to understand that the election was in Heywood in Greater Manchester or the county of Lancashire.  Last week, I told John Bickley of my experience with the Devonshire lass from Ukip's head office on the phone and he grimaced. 
Liz McInnes is a natural Northern bumpkin and trade union functionary, and in some ways that may have given her the edge in parts of Heywood and Middleton.  But she will have to shape up better than she did on Television last night if she is to keep this seat in the General Election next May.  On the basis of her performance last night, I would have hated to see her in a confrontation with the much more acticulate Mr. Bickley.

This morning Nigel Farage suggest that on last night's performance Ukip could be as crucial as Nick Clegg and Lib-Dems were after the last General Election in 2010, in determining the complexion of the next government.

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