Labour are on course for a comfortable victory in this week’s Heywood & Middleton by-election. In a poll completed at the weekend I found the party on 47%, 19 points ahead of UKIP on 28%, with the Conservatives in third place on 16%.
Nearly eight in ten local voters, including 77% of those supporting UKIP, said a large part of the reason for their voting decision was that their party “have the best policies on issues I care about”. Not surprisingly UKIP voters were more likely than others to say they were making a “a protest to show I’m unhappy with all the main parties at the moment” (61%) or sending “a message that I’m unhappy with the party I usually support” (49%). Unlike in Clacton, UKIP voters were less likely than average to say they had made their choice because the party “has the best candidate locally”.
Only around one in six voters (17%) said they were already feeling some of the benefits of an economic recovery. While most Labour voters said they were either already feeling some benefits (10%) or expected to do so at some point (48%), a majority of UKIP supporters (54%) said they were not feeling any such benefits and nor did they expect to.
The local campaign seems to have been closely fought by the principal contenders, with more than two thirds saying they had received visits, phone calls, literature, letters or emails from Labour (69%) and UKIP (68%).