Monday, January 20, 2014

And they're off....

We have the runners and riders confirmed for the Kingstanding By-Election Stakes and all the usual suspects are there amongst the five players. Indeed, much of it is a rerun of May 2012.

Terry Williams, who contested the seat in 2012 for the National Front - retro-fascism still stumbling on - is standing again, but this time with no party name attached. Not sure he'll improve on his 34 votes in 2012, but he's unlikely to trouble the counters much.

Also making a return visit as a sucker for punishment is Graham Lippiatt for the Liberal Democrats, who assembled a magnificent 80 votes, a precipitous fall from the 800 votes that the party garnered in Kingstanding in the 2010 elections.

Apart from the paper candidates, there are the two big names. The vacancy arose as a result of the resignation for family reasons of the sitting Labour councillor, Cath Grundy, who held the seat with 2014 votes in 2012 and we've put up Lorraine Owen, who has fought some tough and effective campaigns in Stechford and Yardley North. Against her is the young pretender himself, Gary Sambrook, who seems to have been standing as the Tory candidate in Kingstanding forever, despite his youth. Last time out, he fell 405 short of Cath as the Tory vote slipped back on 2011, when Labour's majority dropped to 174. No wonder he had try at securing the nomination for the rock-solid safe Tory seat of Sutton New Hall, losing out to Ken Wood, formerly of Longbridge. Ken, by the way, is being touted as a potential leader after the May elections, once Baron Whitby folds up his tent and decides to take his oratory to the House of Lords on a full time basis.

And then there is the fifth candidate, UKIP's Roger Tempest, who could prove to be a fly in the ointment for Gary's hopes of winning, as a modicum of effort could hoover up more than a few protest votes and drain away some of those  Tory supporters.

Labour should hold this, but by-elections are always peculiar beasts. It will come down to hard work on the ground over the weeks ahead and getting the vote out on the 13 February - but then, don't they all?

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