At 7am this morning, the poll stations opened in Clacton and Heywood and Middleton constituencies, starting off the autumn by-elections. While by-elections are normal affairs in UK politics, one of these two were called under rare circumstances.
After the defection of popular Conservative MP Douglas Carswell to UKIP, he recalled an unneeded by election for the people of his Clacton constituency. Standing as a UKIP candidate against his former party and Labour, Carswell has been popular in Clacton in his time as a Conservative MP, which may help him win his seat back.
In the Labour constituency Heywood and Middleton, a by-election has been called due to the death of their MP Jim Dobbins and has resulted in a battle for the seat between UKIP and Labour. In the light of many recent defections from councillors, MPs and donors, these by elections are important for Nigel Farage and UKIP. While UKIP dominated in the European parliament election, they still hold no representation at a national level.
While this election may or may not elect a UKIP MP for the first time, there is also the upcoming by-election for Mark Reckless in his Rochester and Strood constituency, calling a by-election for the same reasons as Carswell.
This may be the first election in their 20 years of existence that UKIP candidate may be elected to Parliament, and while this isn’t a lot in the face of Labour and conservative domination, it’s still a start for UKIP.
Our Election! Britain Votes exhibition is focusing on the lead up to the general election and while that is a way off, the by-elections play an important part in showing the general mood of the people of Britain before we vote. We are tracking opinion polls and by-election results to get a grasp on what people all across the country and their constituencies are thinking politically.