The Torygraph, I’m sorry I mean the Telegraph (UK), reported that UKIP is sending maximum resources to Oldham West and Royton to seek a surprise by-election win December 3 and is urging Tory strategic voting for the libertarian party:
New polling suggests the UK Independence Party has dramatically cut Labour’s lead in the previously safe seat of Oldham West and Royton, which became vacant when the former minister Michael Meacher died last month.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Farage, the Ukip leader, said the contest was now so “close” that he would be throwing all the party’s available campaign resources at winning, in the final few days before Thursday’s vote.
Mr Farage said: “We are going to give this a very big push. I am going to be there almost all week. I have cleared the diary out of almost everything else. One of the things we have to do is try to get Tories to vote Ukip tactically to vote Labour.
Labour senses the political momentum shifting to UKIP but it is an uphill battle (The late incumbent won with a 14k margin last May):
Labour sources fear that they could lose if Ukip’s surge continues – and defeat would intensify pressure on Mr Corbyn’s already embattled leadership.
According to both Labour and Ukip insiders, the Labour leader’s opposition to a “shoot-to-kill” policy against terrorist gunmen in the aftermath of the Paris attacks has been particularly damaging to Labour’s standing in the constituency.
UKIP has cut the Labour lead to seven points! The Guardian has a very reasonable assessment of the potential – and the uphill climb:
Oldham West should not be a difficult defence. Its long-serving MP, the late Michael Meacher, bequeathed a 15,000-vote majority in a seat he comfortably held for 45 years. Yet reports from the campaign trail suggest Labour is nervous and Ukip buoyant. Comparisons are made with the neighbouring seat of Heywood and Middleton, where a collapse in the Labour vote nearly delivered an upset victory for Ukip in 2014. Could Labour lose? It is possible, but Oldham West is much tougher terrain for Ukip than Heywood; Labour’s starting majority is larger, and there is a hefty ethnic minority vote unlikely to switch to Nigel Farage’s party. Ukip needs everything to go its way to get into contention.
And the Independent reports the sudden and numerous appearance of the Farage Labourite in the district:
Labour Party internal polling suggests that it is within 1,000 votes of losing the Oldham by-election to Ukip.
Canvassing by activists over the past few weeks has found that swathes of voters who backed Labour in May are preparing to desert the party in the by-election, in what should be one of its safest seats.
Senior figures close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are understood to be “very worried” and fear the party could lose the seat.
It might be interesting Thursday evening. (And I am off work Friday so that means potential for multiple victory laps if UKIP wins!)