The Clacton By-Election will take place on Thursday 9th October, the BBC reports. The timing of polling day is significant as it is a week after Conservative Party conference, which is expected to give David Cameron a poll bounce. It is also just after parliamentary recess for Liberal Democrat conference, so this will mean that Conservative MPs, parliamentary staff and members of the House of Lords will all be available to campaign that week.
Whilst UKIP are currently polling an almost unprecedented 44 percent ahead in Clacton they will be given a significant run for their money by the Conservatives, who are likely to plough enormous resources into the seat. The Tories still look unlikely to win but things can change in by-elections, which are famously unpredictable. Polling for the Mail on Sunday suggests the Conservatives could cut UKIPs lead to 33 percent by standing Boris Johnson, but this margin would still be a crushing humiliation.
The by-election was sparked by the defection of Douglas Carswell to UKIP and his resignation from the House of Commons. He has now been selected as UKIPs candidate in the by-election, much to the public annoyance of the candidate they had previously selected: Roger Lord. UKIP rules allow the National Executive Committee to choose their candidate in a by-election, and chose to remove Lord believing Carswell had the far better chance of winning. Lord himself has threatened to defect to the Conservatives as a punishment for the way he was treated.
The South East coast of England is fast becoming a UKIP heartland with both the seats in Thanet on the party’s target list for the 2015 general election. Nigel Farage himself will run in South Thanet, and the party are soon to select the candidate in the North Thanet seat. Janice Atkinson MEP had been thought to be a shoe in at the selection for North Thanet, but her recent comments about a South East Asian constituent may put UKIP off selecting her.
The polling day is also David Cameron’s birthday but instead of celebrating he may like to read up on the year 1582. As a result of the implementation of the Gregorian Calendar that year the 9th October did not take place at all in a number of countries. It is not known whether the Prime Minister is secretly hoping for a repeat of that incident.