Thursday, 29 November 2012

Rotherham: UKIP's 'Orpington'?

In 1962 the Liberal Party had a famous by-election victory over the  Conservatives at Orpington. Commentators identify this victory as the start of the revival of the Liberal Party.  There were many false dawns after 1962, but merger with the SDP to form the Liberal Democrats strengthened the party.

The Liberal party had a few MPS before the events of 1962, but mostly in the 'Celtic fringes', apart from two seats which were the subject of an electoral pact with the Conservatives (Bolton and Huddersfield).

UKIP has no MPs, but it does have a number of MEPs.  It is not strong in local government, but it has been strengthening its electoral base in recent years.  Will Rotherham be the 'breakthrough' as Brighton was for the Green Party?   The Labour majority will be hard to overturn, although the party has had problems with the candidate selection process which might assist Respect.  The issue of two foster parents having children taken away from them by Rotherham Council on the grounds that the parents belonged to UKIP has caused outrage across the political spectrum.  Will this be reflected in the vote today?  Will disaffected Conservatives vote UKIP as a protest much as they voted Liberal in Orpington in 1962?  We shall know soon enough.

Update: 30th November.

A good showing by UKIP.

More updates:

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