The poll was triggered by the decision of sitting MP Dr Ian Gibson to resign from the Commons when the Labour Party barred him from standing again at the coming General Election. There are rumours that he may contest the by-election as an independent candidate.
The candidates named so far are:
Conservative – Chloe Smith (the favourite, aged 27 and has been the candidate for 18 months)
Labour – Chris Ostrowski (newly selected candidate who works for John Lewis –somewhat ironic as the “John Lewis list” was the first controversy of the MP expenses scandal)
Lib Dem – April Pond (third choice candidate for the Lib Dems after former MP Martin Bell and the local newspaper editor turned the Lib Dems down. Until a few days ago she was the Lib Dem PPC for Norfolk seat of Broadland)
Green – Cllr Robert Read (a local Councillor who has high hopes following a strong performance locally in the Euro elections)
UKIP – Glenn Tingle (ex Royal Army Medical Corps)
BNP – Rev Robert West (a former East Midlands Euro candidate)
Independent – Craig Murray (former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, standing as an anti-sleaze candidate)
Libertarian Party – Thomas Burridge (aged 18 will be the youngest candidate to stand for Parliament since the age was reduced from 21)
At the 2005 General Election Dr Gibson had a majority of 5,459 over the Conservatives. However, there is speculation that Labour could be forced into third place behind the Conservatives and Green Party, with the Lib Dems forced into a humiliating fourth place.
The 2005 result was:
Labour 21,097 (44.9%)
Conservative 15,638 (33.2%)
Lib Dem 7,616 (16.2%)
Green 1,252 (2.7%)
UKIP 1,122 (2.4%)
Ind 308 (0.7%)
Naturally I wish Chloe Smith every success and as I have done in almost every English and Welsh by-election, I will be going up there to help out.
Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics show that the economy has been contracting for longer and to a much greater extent than previously thought. The annualised rate of shrinkage of the economy has been revised down to -4.9% from the previous -4.1%. The ONS has also revised down its figure of zero growth in the second quarter of last year to -0.1% meaning that officially the recession started earlier than previously thought (recession being defined as two successive quarters of negative growth). It has also stated that in the first quarter of 2009 the economy shrank by 2.4%, the fastest fall in 50 years.
When the Chancellor made his prediction that the economy would shrink by a whopping 3.5% this year he was widely derided by independent forecasters who mostly predicted that it would be worse than 4%. However, even they have now been shown to be optimistic. The only thing that could save the Chancellor’s bacon is swift and rapid upturn but that seems as unlikely as ever.
We are now 14 months into what looks likely to be the worst recession in at least 50 years and there will be three major consequences of this worsening economic news:
- Unemployment will rise higher than the Government has anticipated. Unemployment is a lagging indicator which tends to continue to rise even after economic recovery has begun.
- Tax revenues will be significantly lower than the Chancellor has anticipated and social security spending will be higher, leading to a bigger public sector deficit and the risk that the UKs status as a top-rated borrower will be down-graded.
- There will therefore be an even worse debt crisis and the need for deeper public spending cuts which will damage the recovery that will inevitably come.
Because of the Government’s reckless spending policies we are in danger of a prolonged and deep recession, and a burden of debt that will take decades to repay. The numbers are so bad that I can see the Government preferring to call an autumn General Election rather than have to go through a public sector spending round in November and a budget in March, both of which would be very damaging and painful.
The truth is that once again Labour have near bankrupted this country and their professed solution is to try to spend their way out of it.
As I have posted before, James Callaghan had it right when he said to the Labour Party Conference:
“We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending.
I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists and, in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step.”
James Callaghan – Prime Minister 1976-1979