Last night, Ukip got their first elected MP in Clacton, and ran the eventual Labour victor sufficiently close in Heywood and Middleton to merit a (partial) recount. Amongst the headlines this morning, the New Statesman’s observes “Ukip’s assault on Labour continues”. The commentators, almost without exception, are now looking forward (perhaps in more than one sense) to the Rochester and Strood Parliamentary by-election on 6th November 2014.
But there is an earlier, more substantial test of the so-called “Ukip assault on Labour” one week earlier, on Thursday 30th November – the South Yorkshire PCC by-election. Labour won the original, November 2012 election in South Yorkshire easily with over 50% of the vote – but might Ukip be about to provide a more significant challenge this time round?
The four candidates have now provided their election addresses on the Home Office run “Choose My PCC” website but – even to an ardent PCC-follower like myself – the local campaign itself appears pretty low-key. Although there was an initial flurry of national media interest in the by-election after the previous incumbent resigned, this South Yorkshire campaign now appears to have been completely forgotten by Fleet Street – and maybe even by the political parties themselves.
After some pretty poor turnouts in PCC elections and by-elections, will South Yorkshire electors even bother to vote? And will their verdict turn out to be memorable? We’ll know in three weeks time…