The Greater Manchester constituency of Wythenshawe and Sale East becomes the centre of Britain’s political universe this week, after the death of popular Labour MP Paul Goggins triggered a by-election in the working-class stronghold.
Although voting in the constituency has swung towards the Conservatives in the last two general elections, Mr Goggins was returned with a majority of over 7,500 in 2010 and it’s inconceivable that Labour won’t hold this seat.
There’s little value to be had from the 1/66 odds that they do, but with the United Kingdom Independence Party expected to make further by-election gains at the expense of the hapless Tories, there’s money to be made by wagering on the runner-up in the north west.
UKIP are currently 4/11 favourites to come second, which rates an outstanding price considering their recent record in by-elections across the country.
Nigel Farage’s rag-tag band of right-wing radicals have claimed runners-up spots in each of the last four parliamentary by-elections, of which two were held in the north east, one in Yorkshire and the other in the south.
UKIP’s most notable triumph came in Eastleigh in Hampshire, when surprisingly impressive political newcomer Diane James fell less than 2000 votes short of toppling Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton and becoming the party’s first House of Commons representative.
Few believe local businessman John Bickley can make the breakthrough in Manchester at 16/1, but the Conservatives’ awful record in by-elections over the past five years suggests their candidate, the Reverend Daniel Critchlow, is on a hiding to nothing.
Chloe Smith’s Norwich North victory back in July 2009 was the last time the blue team tasted by-election success, while the majority of almost 2000 that former Tory MP for Corby Louise Mensch built up at the last General Election was swept away by Labour after the chick-lit novelist resigned two years later.
UKIP’s Wythenshawe and Sale East candidate in 2010 pulled in 3.4 per cent of the vote when the party’s national average was 3.1 per cent, which bodes well for Bickley’s chances as Farage’s foot soldiers have consistently claimed over 20 per cent in recent contests and their improvement has been chiefly at the Conservatives’ cost.
The rise of the fourth party looks set to continue apace and with the electorate fancied to bloody the nose of the mainstream parties by giving UKIP the most votes in May’s European Parliament elections, which Farage and co finished second in five years ago, the 7/4 available with Ladbrokes on the double looks to have a great chance of landing.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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