This is the By Election none of the Parties want! They ALL fear losing and all don’t fancy their chances of coming out unscathed – fantastic we can watch them all squirm (sadistic or what!)
We have in the main arena:-
Mike Thornton, Liberal Democrat: as holders of the seat, in a very clear LibDem stronghold, he would be expected to WIN for the LibDems. If they don’t (and their chances are 50/50 at best) then Nick Clegg is in trouble. Such a result would show that the LibDems days are numbered at a national level and that his headlong rush into a coalition government has been a disaster for his party. It will be another nail in his coffin. He wishes it all was a dream – it is certainly a nightmare. Vince Cable will be watching closely with amusement. It is a fight to the death by the Coalition partners!
Maria Hutchings, Conservative: she was second last time in what used to be a Tory seat so is expected to take it over from the disgraced LibDem Chris Huhne. Again their chances are 50/50 at best but David Cameron is in trouble if she fails. If the Conservatives cannot win a by election seat under these circumstances it will demonstrate that the Tories haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of getting a majority at the next general election. If UKIP rains on his parade and causes the loss of the seat Cameron will go crazy. He feels now like the scared lion in the Wizard of Oz, It is a fight to the death by the Coalition partners!
John O’farrell, Labour: a new ‘inexperienced’, to say the least, candidate this election, but though Labour did badly last time losing a lot of their vote, it is inconceivable that they can win the seat this time. However, Ed Miliband will be in trouble if his guy doesn’t do well and take a substantial share of the vote (say 25%). If the Labour Party cannot make progress in midterm, with a Coalition Government in total disarray and with the LibDems discredited in the seat, and the Tories despised in the Country, his credibility as Leader will be put into question & jeopardy. He hates this by election and asks ‘why me’. Labour will enjoy the Coalition partners knocking lumps out of each other!
Diane James, UKIP: previously elected elsewhere as an ‘independent’ Councillor, is expected to significantly increase UKIPs vote this time round (say to 20%), because of the perceived resurgence of the party in the Country. The party’s leader, Nigel Farage, would certainly have done best had he stood as the candidate, and he will be under great pressure if his man doesn’t get a good result. Farage needs the positive publicity of a good showing if UKIP is to make progress in the next local and European elections, and put the knife into the Conservatives over Europe.
Secretly all 4 leaders are hoping for a low turnout (under 50%) because that maximises the scope for generating excuses for an adverse result