Not long after John Bickley had appealed to Ukip delegates to help him win in Heywood and Middleton, Nigel Farage conceded that it wasn’t going to happen. In a briefing with journalists after his speech (the Ukip leader is very generous with his time for the London-based media establishment, far more so than any other leading politician), he said:
‘I think it’s too big a mountain to climb in that short a space of time, and I think the Labour party is saying that because they’ve got a very divided local party, they’re not happy with the candidate, they can’t get anyone out to canvass, and when they put the coaches on to go from the hall in Manchester to the office in Heywood, only 23 people got on one… they were expecting hundreds. So I think that Labour have talked it up to try to scare their own party machine into getting… I could be wrong, but the one thing about Heywood that is different is in South Shields there were 23,000 postal votes, in Heywood and Middleton it’s about nine three or nine four I think it is, and that obviously makes a fundamental difference to our chances.’
I reported earlier that there was a debate in the party as to whether it should use more of its activists and resources in Heywood now that Labour have claimed they’ve got the jitters, but it looks as though everything will be remaining in Clacton until 9 October.