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Barnsley Central by election - they're off!

Len Tingle | 23:05 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Eric Illsley

The race is on to be Eric Illsley's successor in Barnsley Central.

By the time nominations closed at 4pm on Wednesday, nine candidates had put themselves forward to replace jailed former MP Eric Illsley as the member for Barnsley Central.

On the face of it, Dan Jarvis, the 38-year-old former army officer chosen to defend the South Yorkshire seat by Labour, has to be in pole position based on the General Election results of just nine months ago.

Eric Illsley took 47% of the poll as he romped home for the fifth time as Labour MP with his 17,487 votes, giving him a handsome majority of just over 11,000 votes.

But there's been political history created since then. Eric Illsley has become the first sitting MP to be jailed for expenses fraud.

How much will the Illsley affair dent Labour as it tries to draw a line under the scandal and return its door-step campaigning to the more familiar territory of the economy, jobs, pensions, social provision and the NHS?

Recent political history must also be causing problems for the campaigning thrust of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

In the General Election, the parties were trying to knock spots off each other just as much as Labour.

In the months since then the parties have gone into coalition.

It will be interesting to see what the electorate make of the parties as they now fight separate campaigns on the streets of Barnsley.

The results from the General Election do not make promising reading for the new Conservative candidate, James Hockney or the Liberal Democrat, Dominic Carman.

Barnsley Central election results in 2010

The Barnsley Central election results in 2010.

The parties finished virtually neck-and-neck but were still a distant second and third .
Statistically, both parties took a 17.3% share of the poll but the LibDems' 6,394 votes gave them a slender six vote lead.

Hockney, a Conservative councillor in South Oxfordshire, is having a second attempt at fighting a Barnsley seat. At the General Election he stood in neighbouring Barnsley East trailing home in third place.

The Lib Dem's Dominic Carmen is another veteran of last year's General Election in another seat traditionally dominated by Labour.

The writer and journalist stood in the London seat of Barking where Labour's Margaret Hodge was the runaway winner. He came fourth behind the Conservatives and BNP leader Nick Griffin.

As for the rest?

The British National Party had the most support of the minor parties in Barnsley Central at the General Election but It still finished up well behind in fourth place with 3,301 votes and 8.6% of the poll.

The far right party says it will be mounting its largest by-election campaign for its new candidate Enis Dalton.

BNP policies remain odious to every other mainstream party. Despite protests at being labelled "racist" it says it makes no appologies for promoting what it calls the rights of the "indigenous population".

The UK Independence Party candidate is Jane Collins the anti-Eu party's regional organiser.She stood for UKIP in Scunthorpe at the General Election. On the campaign trail with her UKIP's leader Nigel Farage said EU laws are all around us.

"For instance", he told me "how can it be right for the EU to demand that we give the right to vote to convicted prisoners like Eric Illsley?"

The English Democrats did not have candidates for the seat in 2010. This time around it is putting up the party's Barnsley Chairman Kevin Riddiough.

Howling

Candidate 'Howling' Laud Hope

There are the two independent candidates on the ballot paper who have each forked up the necessary £500 deposit and found a minimum 10 local electors to nominate them.

Tony Devoy from Grimethorpe is repeating the anti-sleaze campaign he waged against Eric Illsley last year. His 610 votes put him second from bottom in the poll.

Michael Val Davies, who lives in East Devon, is the second independent candidate to put himself forward. I have yet to find any information about him or his campaign.

The ninth slot on the ballot paper will bear the name "Howling" Laud Hope of the "Official Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party".

He was once a backing singer in the rock band of party's late founder "Screaming" Lord Sutch.

In 2010 "Howling" stood in the Oxfordshire seat of Whitney.

If he had won, David Cameron would not be the Prime Minister today.

For the record, David Cameron is the Prime Minister.

Don't forget that you can keep up to date on the latest Barnsley Central by election news with the BBC South Yorkshire and Sheffield website.

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