The resignation of “A” lister Louise Mensch so soon after becoming an MP has created an interesting political opportunity for the parties. Corby is a Conservative marginal. It is exactly the kind of seat Labour has to win convincingly in a by election to show they are a credible contestant to govern next time. It should be in UKIP’s own thinking an ideal contest for UKIP to prove its own rhetoric that the public are now desperate to leave the EU and prepared to vote for that.
UKIP contributors here are always telling me that UKIP is now poised to break through. They tell me Mr Farage is a far more electable and popular a politician than the three main party leaders. Will Mr Farage contest Corby himself? If not, why not? In a by election like this, UKIP could expect to get more publicity than in a General Election if polls showed it likely to they would experience any surge in support.
It is also of course a good test for the UKIP proposition that they are out to pressurise Mr Cameron into adopting a more Eurosceptic policy. There is always a danger for Mr Cameron in a marginal seat that UKIP could gift the seat to Labour by detaching sufficient Conservative voters to allow federalist Labour to win. My guess is Mr Cameron will not think this a likely outcome, or will not think he should make any concession to UKIP. I do not expect him to make any announcement offering a referendum soon or a renegotiation to get powers back.
I suspect the Corby by election will come and go without helping us resolve the obvious need for the UK to have a new relationship with the EU, as it rushes headlong to an unfortunate political union.
2010 General Election Conservative 42.2%, Labour 38.6%, Lib Dem 14.5%, BNP 4.5%
UKIP polled 0.9% in 1997, 1.8% in 2001, 2.6% in 2005 and did not contest Corby in 2010. UKIP gained 16.4% of the vote in the East Midlands in the 2009 European elections and 3.1% overall across the UK in the 2010 General Election.