Can Ukip give Miliband a scare in Labour's heartland?

In upcoming by-election, Farage aims to prove it's not just Tories at risk – he's targeting Labour too

Column LAST UPDATED AT 09:20 ON Mon 27 Jan 2014

THE 13 February by-election in the Manchester seat of Wythenshawe and Sale East gives Labour the chance to test-market Ed Balls's 50p tax promise and Ukip the opportunity to give Ed Miliband a major scare in Labour's heartland. 

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is promoting his candidate, John Bickley, as a “local boy who really cares about the community he is from”.

Not only was he born on a Wythenshawe council estate and did he attend the local comprehensive, Bickley is from a staunch Labour background, his father having been an active trade union member.

Giving Labour a run for their money is crucial to Farage's strategy. He is fed up with the Tory charge 'Vote Farage, Get Miliband', the suggestion being that by going after disaffected Tory voters he is simply shoring up Labour’s persistent lead in the polls.

Now Farage wants to show that Labour is at risk from Ukip too: that his party's line on immigration and the threat to jobs is as attractive to some traditional Labour supporters as it is to right-wing Tories. 

As he told the Daily Telegraph earlier this month, “There are some Labour-held marginals in this country where only Ukip has a chance of beating them, not the Tories. They know the immigration thing is huge with their voters.”

On the basis of recent local election results and opinion polls, Ukip has overtaken the Lib Dems as the third force in British politics.

In the May 2013 local elections, Ukip enjoyed the biggest surge by a fourth party in England since World War Two. Of the 147 Ukip councillors elected, 139 represented gains.

Today, the party is consistently placed third in the opinion polls. Yesterday's Sunday Times YouGov poll had Labour on 39 per cent, Conservatives on 32 per cent, Ukip on 13 per cent and the Lib Dems on nine per cent. The BBC's poll of polls gives exactly the same statistics.

Even in the extraordinarily hostile territory of Scotland, Ukip pushed the Lib Dems into fifth place in this month's Cowdenbeath by-election, which was won by Labour with a 11.25 per cent swing from the Scots Nationalists (but that's another story).

Labour should win the Wythenshawe by-election with ease. Their widely admired MP Paul Goggins, who died earlier this month, had a majority of more than 7,575 over the Conservatives in 2010. Labour have chosen their own local man, Michael Kane, to defend the seat. As the Manchester Evening News reports, he's been a party activist since the age of 18.

But Farage is clearly hoping to follow the Lib Dems' example and use spectacular upsets at by-elections and local elections to create publicity, excitement and momentum – the strategy that made Lord Rennard a Lib Dem hero before the recent harassment claims shadowed his reputation.

Ukip have a very good chance of coming second ahead of the Conservatives in Wythenshawe: they have notched up five second places in by-elections over the past three years. And the Tories are getting their alibi ready for a poor result, telling The Spectator that because the by-election in is Labour's heartland "nothing less than a convincing Labour win will do".

But the bigger question is whether Ukip could do the unthinkable and beat Labour to win the seat. 

There are signs that Labour are nervous about an upset. They have limited Ukip’s time to mobilise by calling the by-election so soon, just five weeks after Goggins's death.

Then there are the "don't be complacent" warnings from northern Labour MPs who have clearly got a whiff of Ukip's appeal to traditional Labour supporters.

John Healey, who was in charge of the party’s campaign in Rotherham, where Ukip amassed a quarter of the vote, says Farage's party is drawing on those people "not bored, but angered by politics". 

Writing for PoliticsHome, Healey says Labour must take the Ukip threat seriously and come up with measures to counter them. Crucially, he says, Labour have to show “we understand their concerns". He believes Ed Miliband has made a good start with the cost of living campaign, but thinks there is more to be done.

Another concerned Labour MP is John Mann, who represents the Nottinghamshire constituency of Bassetlaw. He says the threat needs tackling in different ways in different parts of the country. In the industrial North he says there should be billboards “with Farage holding his Thatcher mug, quoting his support for Thatcher’s de-industrialisation – crude but effective. We can expose Ukip for their love of bankers and their hatred of the NHS.”

As a result of such warnings, Labour is testing out specially drafted anti-Ukip leaflets in Wythenshawe which argue that Farage is not on the side of the working class. 

The leaflets focus on issues such as Ukip's tax policy, its plans to break up public services and repeal workers' rights, and its attitudes to equal pay. They emphasise how Ukip takes European Union cash, but does not turn up to vote or represent British interests in the European Parliament.

But will this work against a Ukip candidate - Bickley - with impeccable working–class credentials?

One theory, assuming Ukip can come second on 13 February, is that the threat from Farage's party in seats like Wythenshawe is longer-term. If Labour win the 2015 general election and then suffer a typical drop in popularity by the time of the following general election, Ukip will be poised to exploit their weakness. · 

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Labour's support for continued membership of the European Union (and no plans for a referendum on this issue) and its open door policy towards immigration are completely against the interests of the working man/woman. If Labour refuse to provide this basic protection, UKIP will flourish. Already many Labour party voters are disgruntled and is quite possible that UKIP could win the forthcoming Wythenshawe & Sale by election.

Labour MP John Mann, "We can expose Ukip for their love of bankers and their hatred of the NHS.”

They really don't get it, do they. UKIP is a grass roots organisation made up of ordinary people from a variety of backgrounds. There is no love or hatred for anything, just an overwhelming desire to see the country run for the benefit of the people.

The comments from these Labour MPs shows that their only interest is gaining power, or holding on to what little they have.

UKIP might win in Labour marginal, but come the General election the frightening scenario of a UKIP majority will hopefully block them out.

Why is UKIP frightening?

A Labour, Conservative or Liberal coalition frightens me more.

...I predict (or, at least, hope for) a very good showing from UKIP. To overturn such a healthy Labour majority is a very tall order - but I will be VERY surprised if that majority is as high as it was before.

This by-election result will be a real barometer of UKIP's threat and appeal to Labour, in equal measure, and it should be of interest/concern to ALL parties (except, perhaps, for the Lib Dems who have been on life support for the past three and a half years).

Lena - Wythenshawe is NOT a Labour "marginal" - it is a Labour "safe seat".

"Another concerned Labour MP is John Mann, who represents the Nottinghamshire constituency of Bassetlaw. He says the threat needs tackling in different ways in different parts of the country. In the industrial North he says there should be billboards “with Farage holding his Thatcher mug, quoting his support for Thatcher’s de-industrialisation – crude but effective. We can expose Ukip for their love of bankers and their hatred of the NHS.”

How about some billboards showing Mandelson in his Lords ermine sending out 'search parties' for migrants to fill the British jobs? Or perhaps rubbing the peoples noses in it?

Anybody that votes for Labour, must be a supporter of the crook Blair, the idiot Brown, the two idiots Millipeed & Balls, and the old queer Mandelson and his Brazilian Bum Boy..Raimondo...plus the complete change in dermographics of the British..or to be precise the English population..do you really want a Nigerian Flash Boy, called Chukka Ummuna to be the first Black' English' Prime Minister, with Pakistani, Afro-Caribean, Arab, and Muslim majority in the Cabinet...sending what is left of the UK, after Scottish Independence hurling downwards to 3rd World Status..well by then with increased migration from India, Pakistan, Nigeria etc etc..it will be the first Afro-Asian country in Europe....

Extremism of the very worst kind i.e frightening prejudiced right wing intolerance.

I didn't say it was -I said "UKIP might win in Labour marginal but come.."

How about exposing the absurdity of the gaudy ermine as worn by all members and the anachronistic term as well.

Hardly a peaceful UKIP if you listen to their speeches in detail.

In what way is UKIP "extremist"."prejudiced", "right wing" and "intolerant"?

In what way is UKIP promoting conflict?

...not to mention your own rabidly anti - monarchy, anti - military, anti - establishment rantings!

"Kettle" and "pot black" spring to mind here.

Consequently by your own reasoning we are all member of the Kettle & pot black club!A bit silly of you to mention the monarchy however implying that those of us who consider it anachronistic are sinful? Wow - how absurd. As for the military Britain needs more cut backs to stop more interfering type colonialism. Establishment touche.(accent needed.)

Labour will hold the seat comfortably. UKIP simply aren't that strong in domestic North West politics & especially in the Manchester & Salford areas... A recent council byelection in Broadheath(Trafford) saw a Labour gain from the Conservatives with 44.6% of the vote & UKIP polled just 7.6%. In the Manchester Central Westminster byelection in Nov 2012 UKIP got just 4.5% yet there are UKIPPERS going around saying they can win....not a chance!

In Eastleigh, UKIP had lealets saying 4.5m Bulgarians WILL come here & don't deny it, i've held the said leaflet, that is designed to scare people, UKIP are a right wing party, they belong to the group of right wing parties in Brussels for starters & UKIP are riddled with extremists, you only had to see many kippers support for the EDL post Woolwich. When Andrew Neil interviewed Tommy Robinson on #bbcsp the abuse he got after from many kippers who said he was too harsh on him was telling, UKIP attract much of the ex BNP vote now, it's a natural home for immigrant haters

What is "right wing" about putting one's own country first?

Do you know that when in isreal miliband said he was a zionist? How can a left wing leader also support a very right wing organisation. I would no more trust a man like that anymore then I trust cameron.

I am one of those 'UKIPPERS' that have come from all around the Country to spread the word. Northerner may truly be amazed just how many people approach us pledging their support and asking whether the coming local elections will have a UKIP Candidate. The answer is YES; UKIP intend to field a candidate in every single ward in the Manchester area.

Wythenshawe may be Labour heartland but the ordinary working class people are well aware that the Parliamentary Labour Party does not care a jot for them. Paul Goggins was a great MP for the area and people all around the area miss him, but many are also aware that Labour will have to work very hard to find a local man with the same motives as Mr. Goggins. It is not enough to just place in a Party Activists, they want someone with a sense of 'belonging' to the people of Wythenshawe. john Bickley is just that. He was looking forward to retiring but felt that the people he grew up with want someone who believes in them.

Many voters also know what the Parliamentary Parties are refusing to tell them; that 2015 could easily be the last 'British' General Election. What the politicians are refusing to state is that the Lisbon Treaty already gives the EU Commissioners sufficient powers to 'Federalise' Europe and force us into the Euro without another treaty or any other form of input from member states as the Lisbon Treaty, with QMV comes into full force in November of this year. Many Labour voters are considering to vote for UKIP 'just this once' in order to stop the inevitable steamroller of the British people to give up their Nationality.

So; Northerner1001, do not get your hopes up too much because many Labour supporters are primarily patriots before being Party Supporters.

Pader....i do not take anything in politics for granted at all but i can type plenty of evidence that UKIP simply aren't that strong in Manchester & Salford....this is a fact backed up with local election.byelection, Manchester Central westminster byelection results....i could easily say plenty come up to me whilst campaigning saying 'please get the tories out' (they do) but anecdotes mean very little in politics

UKIP are the protest party of this parliament & are doing fairly well but they still haven't won a Westminster byelection so you can talk the talk but as of yet haven't walked the walk.

I repreat, look at Broadheath in Trafford 2 weeks ago -Labour 44.6% UKIP 7.6%....Swinton South(Salford in early Jan the tories beat UKIP to 2nd.....In October there was another byelection in salford where Farage said UKIP would win( He told that to a fringe event at Tory conf at Manchester town hall) but the result was Labour hammering UKIP.....so you can talk UKIP up all you want up here but the reults show a VERY different story as Wythenshawe & Sale East.

UKIP's 'local' candidate John Bickley is that 'local he lives in Northwich, Cheshire

Brimstone - Because the business people do NOT want a Europe opt out, consequently on that basis UKIP are NOT putting their country first. Good point from Northerner1001. We must keep reminding voters about UKIP's approval of the dreadful EDL and presumably by association the BNP.

Colin - Well delighted that you would not support a very right wing organisation, so presumably that means a NO vote for UKIP - who according to one misguided comment want the best for this country! Really? Most business people do not want an opt out of Europe and are highly skeptical of the nonsensical new rules that Cameron wants to impose on Europe. NO NO NO!

The only business people who want to be members of the EU are the multi-nationals and they are a small minority of businesses. By far the majority of businesses are SMEs who employ the most people and most of them want to leave the EU.

Do you know what the EU is for? If so, please tell me, because I've asked a number of people who consider themselves well informed and they can't give me a simple straightforward answer.

What do you find "dreadful" about the EDL? Leaving aside the slant that the media put on them. Have you even looked at their website to find out what they really stand for, what they are complaining about?

Presumably, if you disapprove of the EDL you must approve of the murder of Lee Rigby.

UKIP are the only party to ban former members of BNP and other racist organisations from joining.

I would suggest the first thing you need to do is to find out what it is your talking about, because at the moment you've shown yourself not only to be woefully ill-informed but prejudiced.

Brimstone2 - If you have ever been on the sharp end of the EDL's frightening tactics then you would clearly understand why I refer to them as dreadful. Just because they condemn the shocking murder of Lee Rigby does not mean that anyone approves such behavior. To imply that I condone murder is a great personality reveal er - what a despicable and impertinent fellow you must be. As far as SME's are concerned; locally I know more than one company who rely on trade with their fellow Europeans, and are really fearful of the opting out consequences. So many people owe their employment and standard of living to the contracts gained earlier.

My comment about who supports what was meant as a prod to make those who are against those who want to put a stop to certain sections of the "community" treating the rest of us badly take a moment to stop and think.

Regarding SMEs who export to the EU, what makes them think they will suffer as a result of the UK leaving, will their customers stop buying?

I note that you haven't said what the EU is for.

We don't have to be a member of a political union to trade with other countries. Most of the countries who trade with the countries of Europe are not members of the EU.

Breaking News.- "Mr Hollande and Mr Cameron to meet in Oxford pub".A passer when interviewed stated: "Well good luck to Mr Hollande, He will need it, and will have a hard time trying to knock some sense in to that bonehead! We need more integration not less, and before anyone makes a silly patronizing comment, I am a true patriot who wants the very best for the British people and deplore this isolationist clap trap which will be our ruination. Mr Holland say Non Non Non!"

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