Before the by-election battle with Ukip in Rochester that Westminster is rather obsessed with, there’s another chance for Nigel Farage’s party to cause a political earthquake. Tomorrow, voters in South Yorkshire will go to the polls to elect a new police and crime commissioner to replace Shaun Wright, who eventually resigned after the Rotherham child abuse scandal.
Ukip is fighting a vigorous campaign in this PCC election, launching posters at the weekend that read ‘there are 1,400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again’, with a picture of a teenage girl on them. The party’s candidate Jack Clarkson does have a good chance of winning the seat from Labour, which will cause serious jitters.
Some Labour MPs think that it will show how the party is bleeding support in its heartlands, while others dismiss it as a unique by-election fought after a terrible scandal on what is likely to be a low turnout. That Labour would scrap the job if it entered government in 2015 makes it a little less serious, too.
Both sides accept that it is impossible to call this result: there has been no poll and neither party has sufficient data from canvassing to make them sufficiently confident that they’ll win. Both have sent out mail shots to voters, realising that postal votes are particularly important in this fight.
But even if Labour does beat Ukip, which the bookies’ odds (see last night’s Evening Blend email here, and sign up to our free daily email briefings here) still suggest it will, Ukip could still use the result to make trouble. The result can be broken down by borough, which means we will know how each party fared in Rotherham and Doncaster, for instance.