On The 13th of January the first By-election since the Coalition Government was formed will take place.
10 Candidates have entered the fray and despite the usual media blackout on any party that isn't the big three, this is a by far a for gone conclusion. Articles in the Guardian already claim that all three big parties could be in for a slap from the electorate. But what would a win by any of the Candidates mean? (In no particular order in an effort for some level of fairness)
Stephen Morris - English Democrats - With the Mayoralty of Doncaster and a few local councillors under their belt, the English Democrats are (based on votes at the General election) 13th on what I like to think of as the UK league table. A win by the English Democrats would be a huge slap not only for the big three parties but also the Leaders of the big three as; 'Red Ed' would lose his first electoral clash in the Labour leadership, 'King-maker' Clegg would lose an election his party fought tooth and nail to get, and David Cameron (he hasn't got much of a nickname yet) would have to deal with the fact his soft campaign to get the Lib Dems in not only failed but allowed another party into the house. For the English Democrats themselves the PR boost alone in gaining the seat could propel their share of votes up in any upcoming election. They will have to consider how they operate within the house (something I touched upon here ) most likely joining the 'Celtic Bloc' of the SNP and Plaid will be good position for the English Democrats as it will make the Bloc (which will most likely have to be renamed) a more viable coalition partner as it removes the 'Anyone but England' aspect of the bloc when potentially forming a coalition.
Elwyn Watkins - Liberal Democrats - This by-election is crucial for 'King-maker' Clegg. A win will soothe Lib dem fears over their electoral future and help replenish some of the seats lost due to a polarisation of the vote in 2010. From a PR stand point the win will help Clegg sell his parties position as he will be able to point to the fact that his party are still winning seats and therefore have the backing of the public. As this is also the year of the AV referendum, Celtic Elections and English council elections a win now may help the Lib Dems maintain rather than lose their current seats status allowing them to ride out the current coalition till 2015 with more or less the same seats they started with.
Peter Allen - Green Party - For the Green party of England and Wales (Currently ranked 7th in my mind) Oldham offers the chance to prove that the election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton was not a one off and the win would help on the road to proving to the electorate that they are a credible alternative, not just in Westminster, but also in the Celtic Elections coming up in May. A second Green in the commons could be an argument for the Greens to back the Celtic Bloc in a similar way in that they back the SNP minority Government in Scotland, but unless the Greens could extract some sort of electoral arrangement in Scotland and Wales to help improve (and in the case of Wales, get) their seat share within the respective devolved bodies a deal is unlikely. From a PR stand point the election of another Green would help push more environmental policies showing that the public does think that the environment should be prioritised with the election of two Greens to the current parliament. And of course a similar sentiment for the big three as I mentioned in the English Democrat section.
Paul Nuttal MEP - UKIP - With two Lords and being the second biggest British party in the European Parliament (Currently ranked 4th by me) UKIP will be hoping that Oldham East is their door into the House of Commons. By putting forward an MEP, UKIP will perhaps be reminding the public that they are a credible party. If they win, the benefits will mostly be from PR, One MP in a Parliament that is shifting towards Coalition style politics is not a big asset but will, like all smaller parties help boost their chances for the devolved elections and allow them to build their representation outside of Brussels. One possible outcome could be that if UKIP make it into the Commons, they may attract some Tory defectors unhappy with the Coalition's direction towards Europe. (and again big three get a slap if UKIP win)
Kashif Ali - Conservative - Mr Ali occupies and unique position in this election, in that he is the candidate that no other party, including his own, wants to win. Should he manage to win despite a soft campaign from Conservative HQ to allow the Lib Dems to win, he will bring very few benefits to the party (in the grander scheme of things NOT in a personal sense)as the Lib Dems will take a huge hit to their morale and potentially lead to more problems for the Coalition. However is Kashif does win 'Red Ed' Miliband may find himself in trouble with a party that already has doubts about which brother they should have empowered.
Derek Adams - BNP - The BNP's two Euro seat win was a huge breakthrough for the party (they are also 5th in the Rankings) and they will hope that Oldham provides another. A win here, will in a similar sense to the Lib Dems, provide some internal ease for the party who has been going through some internal problems in regards to finance and Leadership along with similar benefits the other smaller parties would also gain from a win.
Debbie Abrahams - Labour - Labour (Currently number 2 in rankings) have a lot riding on the Oldham by-election. For 'Red Ed' it will provide a mark in the win column for his fledgling Leadership and help stave off any would-be coups that are already beginning to fester. It will also give them more ammunition in their battle against Coalition policies, especially the spending cuts and allow Labour to fan the flames in regards to Lib Dem electoral fears over their Union with the Conservatives. It will also be a comfort to party activists who may still be worried about their party's electoral chances in regards to the upcoming elections in that the public have shifted into a more anti-coalition mindset which may allow Labour to gain overall control of Wales and perhaps minority control of Scotland.
Loz Kaye - Pirate Party UK - The Pirates, who currently occupy 44th in the rankings are the legitimate outsider in this election, but by putting forward their leader and fighting in an election which has a lot of eyes focused on it, they will hopefully come out with a huge publicity boost that may translate into a few council or Celtic seats in the upcoming elections in May. A win by the Pirates would be a huge surprise and not to just the main three but also the more mid-field parties like the Greens, EngDems, UKIP and BNP and should the Pirates overtake any other party (except the joke parties) it will be a huge blow to that party to be beaten by a party which only fielded nine candidates in the General Election (English Democrats were the next lowest with 107 candidates) so as long as the Pirates stay ahead of the Monster raving loony party and the Bus Pass-Elvis party they cant lose.
David Bishop of the Bus-pass Elvis party and The Flying Brick of the Monster Raving Loony Party (Ranked 27th) are the joke parties and a win by them would most probably surprise them more than any of us.
While not every party is fighting to win (Conservatives and Joke parties) the final results table will be a benefit to some and a cost to others, a late PR Xmas pressie or a PR nightmare... Lovely way to kick of 2011