PETER FROST has been to Corby where the Tories have a secret by-election weapon.
The Tories are facing a crushing defeat in the Corby by-election on November 15 says former deputy Conservative party chairman – and tax exile – Lord Ashcroft.
A private Conservative poll organised by Ashcroft puts Labour 22 points ahead with just two weeks to go before polling.
The Tory figures suggest that Labour will win the seat by a 54% to 32% margin a 13-point swing back to Labour – enough for an overwhelming Commons majority in a general election.
Half of those who intend to switch their vote away from the Tories say it is because they are “not happy with what the Conservatives are doing in government”.
More than a quarter of defectors report they will “almost certainly or definitely” not switch back to the Tories in the next general election.
That’s why the Tories are serious, or perhaps desperate, as they fight the Corby by-election.
As well as a sprinkling of Tory big-wigs and as many volunteers as they can muster visiting Corby they have bought a secret weapon in to support Tory candidate Christine Emmett. Emmett is a councilor from across the border in posh Rutland.
Rutland is fox hunting country and the Tories secret weapon is nothing less than the campaigning power of Horse and Hound magazine.
The magazine has run a leading article urging all hunts and hunters to support the Conservative candidate.
“All the local hunts have received, or will soon receive, information about how to help.” The magazine told its readers.
Although Corby itself is a working class ex-steeltown when the constituency borders were gerrymandered in 1983 they incorporated some of the most posh towns and villages in the hunting English shires.
The constituency now includes Tory traditional fox-hunting country up to the Rutland border.
However we can find no reliable statistics on how widely Horse and Hound is read among the young unemployed and redundant steelworkers of Corby.
The by-election was triggered by the surprise resignation of Tory MP Louise Mensch.
Chick-lit novelist Louise told the world she was resigning to spend more time with her family in the USA but new husband Peter has slipped up by revealing the embarrassing truth.
Louise, says Mr Mensch actually threw in the towel because she knew she had no hope of keeping the seat in future elections.
Labour candidate Andy Sawford was adopted for Labour over a year ago.
He is as confident as Lord Ashcroft that he will overturn the 1,951 majority by a considerable margin.
Andy is the son and grandson of Corby steelworkers. His dad was steelworker turned Kettering Labour MP Phil Sawford.
Sawford told the Morning Star “We have the opportunity, here in this Corby by-election, to send a message to this out-of-touch government that they can’t ignore”.
Let’s take a look at the other main runners and riders standing in the by- election.
Despicable Tory renegade journalist and blogger James Delingpole has thrown his hat in the ring, ostensibly on an anti-windfarm platform but in fact as a traditional hard-line Tory opposed to Cameron and most of his coalition policies.
Tory backwoodsmen used Louise Mensch’s resignation to justify their disapproval of women, and particularly women with children, in Parliament generally.
Others Tories, on various right-wing tweets and blogs demanded that the party select a traditional male Tory with some local knowledge to fight Corby.
Instead the local Tory party had the temerity to select another woman – Christine Emmett.
Hence Delingpole is standing with the intention of giving real dyed-in-the wool Tory traditionalists somebody male and really reactionary to vote for.
UKIP didn’t stand in the 2010 election in order to give the Tories a clear run. They are standing Margot Parker this time round and she too should split off a significant number of more rightwing and Euro-sceptic Tory voters.
The BNP is creeping out from under their stone again. Corby must be one of the few surviving branches as Griffin’s party splits and disintegrates. The BNP polled just a little less than five per cent in 2010 and have since worked closely with the local Tories.
Amazingly the 2010 BNP Parliamentary Candidate Roy Davies signed one local Tory, Mark Taitt’s, nomination papers for the 2011 council elections. He was one of two high level BNP members who did so.
When questioned about this disgusting situation Louise Mensch MP claimed she had never heard of Roy Davies. Yet he stood for the BNP as one of just three candidates who fought against her in the General Election.
Mensch and Corby Tories have consistently refused to offer any criticism or denial of this racist support.
Gordon Riddell is standing for the BNP this time. Local racist websites and blogs show his fascist support is splitting as fast as the main BNP party.
What with UKIP and David Wickham standing for the English Democrats the ultra-right, racist and fascist vote should be nicely fragmented, not just split.
Jill Hope, the Liberal Democrat candidate – and ex Barclaycard banker must be worried about losing her deposit.
Like Lib Dem organisations everywhere her local party is hemorrhaging support and members disgusted with Clegg’s cozying up to the Tories.
Lib Dems lost two seats in the 2011 town council elections leaving them just a pitiful three Council seats.
Main issues on the doorstep are youth and adult unemployment and Cameron and Clegg’s austerity cuts.
Northamptonshire County Council, with a massive Tory majority (54 Tory; 10 Lib-Dem.;6 Lab.;1 Ukip.;2 Ind.) have been enthusiastic supporters of the cuts.
Severe measures have included slashing funding for a health education programme that was reducing the number of schoolgirl pregnancies – a serious problem in the town.
The County Council has also halted most drug and alcohol abuse work along with slashing its entire youth service to the bone.
Another unpopular cut has seen street lighting turned off. Local trades unionists have been running a campaign against this blackout.
Distribution warehouses, food factories and other businesses that replaced traditional steel making in the town are shutting down as George Osborne’s promised economic recovery sputters and dies.
A victory for Labour will send a loud message to Cameron and Clegg that working class voters in places like Corby are not going to stand for massive cuts in public services and that they want a future that works.
Let’s just hope that Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet are listening too.
Jonathan Hornett – Green Party; Christopher Scotton for the newly formed United People’s Party; Dr Rohen Kapur – Young People’s Party: Peter Reynolds – Cannabis Law Reform (formerly the Legal Cannabis Alliance); Adam Lotun -Independent backed by Democracy 2015. He stands for a living wage and re-nationalisation of public transport; Toby Jug – Monster Raving Lunatics.
2010 General Election Results
Corby and East Northamptonshire
Louise Mensch Tory 22,886
Phil Hope Labour 20,934
Portia Wilson Lib Dem 7,834
Roy Davies BNP 2,525
Tory majority 1,951
Swing to Tories 3.4%
First published in the Morning Star, November 2013