The Conservatives are expected to win the Newark by-election on Thursday despite recent UKIP successes and surge in popularity. The poll conducted by Tory donor Lord Ashcroft suggests Robert Jenrick will hold the seat for the Conservatives with 42 percent of the vote, quite a distance above UKIP’s Roger Helmer (27 percent).
The by-election was caused by the resignation of Patrick Mercer, who was covertly filmed agreeing to take money from journalists posing as lobbyists. When the scandal first broke he offered to stand down, meaning that he would have stayed on until May 2015, but in the end he was obliged to resign altogether.
Ahead of the by-election Nigel Farage described winning Newark as the political equivalent of “climbing Everest” but he went on to say that he planned to try anyway. In 2010 the winning line in Newark was 53 percent of the vote, whereas UKIP scored less than four percent. The UKIP poll rating of 27 percent is a significant improvement on last time, but only in line with recent results elsewhere.
Following the huge gains in the polls and the results in the local and European elections by UKIP the Conservatives have taken no chances in Newark.
Saturday was the latest outing of their new ‘RoadTrip2015’ strategy which buses hundreds of young activists into one constituency, enabling them to easily outgun any other party. David Cameron has also visited the seat multiple times, along with various senior ministers.
The Liberal Democrats have crashed into fourth place with just six percent. Although Newark is safe for the Conservatives, the Lib Dems did still come second last time, followed by Labour and UKIP. A disastrous result in Newark will put further pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, although it will not come as much of a surprise to the party.
Labour is on 20 percent, slightly shy of where they stood last time. If these results are replicated at the ballot box on Thursday they will be seen as further evidence that Ed Miliband is just not making the headway he needs to win the next election.
Disaffection with the Conservatives seem to benefitting UKIP rather than Labour.