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With the sad news of the untimely passing of Oldham West & Royton's MP, Michael Meacher, Labour have called a by-election for 3rd December 2015. (I note in passing that the Labour Party could not even honour the usual rule of waiting until the sitting MP is buried before announcing).
With that writ on 2nd November 2015 the election is now on. And what a fight it will be. UKIP has selected John Bickley. Why is that, you might ask. Well, let me tell you.
There are two things at play here. One is Mr Bickley's history in by-elections for UKIP and the other is the amazing result of UKIP in this seat in the May 2015 election. Here are the results for the by-election where John stood as the UKIP candidate in Heywood & Middleton in October 2014.
We really were that close. The polling throughout the by-election had UKIP at best 10% behind labour. On the day it was 2.2% or 617 votes. Unfortunately, the General Election in May 2015 saw Conservatives and Labour throw a lot of money at their campaigns.
As such, John still came a good second, but it was not good enough to get elected.
In May 2015 the Oldham West & Royton campaign saw UKIP come second in a fantastic fight against Labour. Mr Meacher had been in the seat since 1970 - you do not get much safer seats than that. In 2010 UKIP got 3.2% of the vote, which was not good, especially as BNP got a higher vote. 2015 saw Francis Arbour selected to stand as UKIP candidate - and what a candidate!! Francis came second, gaining a 17.4% increase on the 2010 vote to gain 8,892 votes, or 20.6% of the vote. Mr Meacher saw his vote increase, and he won with 54.8% of the vote. Francis' turnout was amazing.
So, UKIP and Labour know they are in a fight for this by-election. Labour Co-op selected Jim McMahon, who is the leader of Oldham council. For other candidates, see the wikipedia link at note 4.
What does the campaign mean? Well, likely issues arising out of the campaign will be how Labour's new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is viewed by the public. He wants to abolish the Royal Family and monarchy, he wants to remove the UK's nuclear weapons and defence systems, he wants to remove all migration rules and just allow as many people in the country as want to come and, more generally, he appears not to really support the Labour Co-op candidate, having spent just two minutes there announcing the candidate. UKIP is probably going to run its campaign based upon how truly awful the Labour party is and how little they actually do for the people of Oldham.
So, if you want to help out the UKIP campaign, please go to the website and call/email them and help. They need so many people for so many things - please do all you can.
Update: I went out leafleting on 14th and met UKIP activists from all over the country and was paired up with a great chap from Edinburgh. Please come out and help, it really is a good way of meeting activists from around the UK, and we can genuinely fight this. More youtube videos to come.
 Mr Meacher's Parliamentary career: http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/michael-meacher/454
 Hansard - Page 697 2nd November 2015 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/chan62.pdf
 John Bickley website: http://www.ukip.org/johnbickley
 See wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heywood_and_Middleton_by-election,_2014
 Labour Party and Co-operative Party are a joint party registered at the electoral commisison: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Co-operative and https://party.coop/frequently-asked-questions/ and http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Api/Accounts/Documents/16476
What is a By-election Timetable?
What is a By-election?
What is a writ? This is from Hansard And explains what a by-election is:
'Moving the Writ'
Traditionally the Chief Whip of the political party whose MP held the vacant seat will begin the procedure for a by-election. This is known as 'moving the Writ' and takes the form of a motion in the House of Commons.
Find out more in Glossary: Writs
A new Writ is moved within three months of the vacancy occurring. There have been a few instances of seats remaining vacant longer than six months before a by-election was called. Seats have also been left vacant towards the end of a Parliament to be filled at the general election.
If there are several vacant seats then a number of by-elections can take place on the same day.
Commons Library briefing
The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.
Under the provisions of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 the Parliamentary by-election timetable is now between 21 and 27 working days from the issuing of the writ (it had previously been between 13 and 19 days). The Note gives background to the change in length of the timetable and details of the new model timetable.
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