2.50am Douglas Carswell’s victory speech, after winning a 12,404 majority, was not triumphalist: there was no tub-thumping. Instead, he said that Ukip must be the party of 1st and 2nd generation Britons, that its passion must be tempered by compassion and argued that the era of dominant cartel was coming to an end in everything from banking to politics.
2.45 Ukip win Clacton, Douglas Carswell is Ukip’s first elected MP with more than 60% of the vote
2.35am Result coming very soon now
2.15 The BBC’s Chris Mason is reporting that Douglas Carswell will have a 12 thousand plus majority, a quite remarkable result
2.05am Labour MP John Mann, a frequent critics of the leadership, has responded on Twitter to the Heywood and Middleton by saying, ‘ Ed Miliband does a lot of listening. Now he needs to do a bit more hearing’ and ‘If Ed Miliband does not broaden the Labour coalition to better include Working class opinion then we cannot win a majority government’
1.45am Heywood and Middleton is, for the next hour or so, Ukip’s best ever by-election performance. They polled 39% of the vote and reduced the Labour majority to just 617.
If Labour hadn’t ensured that this by-election was held on the same day as the one in Clacton, forcing Ukip to split its resources, this result could have been even more interesting.
1.35am Heywood and Middleton result:
Lib Dem 1,457
1.30am Labour win Heywood and Middleton with a majority of 617
1.25am Contrary to earlier reports, looks like Lib Dems have saved their deposit in Heywood and Middleton
1.20am Douglas Carswell is sounding very confident in his interview with Andrew Neil. He wouldn’t guess at what his majority was going to be but it is clear that he expects to win.
Carswell said that he’ll be off on Saturday to campaign for his fellow defector Mark Reckless. He also accused CCHQ of trying to smear Reckless.
But in a reminder of what an intellectually interesting politician Carswell is, he praised the 2010 Tory manifesto and lamented that the political reforms in it had not been implemented. He tried to align himself with Steve Hilton, Cameron’s former guru and a one-time Green voter.
1.10am Full recount granted in Heywood and Middleton
1.05am Before the Heywood and Middleton count began tonight, par for Labour was regarded as having a 2,000 vote majority. But Ukip are now demanding a recount saying that there are only 620 votes behind Labour. If this is true, then I think that anxiety about Ukip among Labour MPs will increase quite dramatically.
1am Ukip have asked for a recount in Heywood and Middleton. They are saying there are only six hundred odd votes in it.
12.41am Sky News’s Faisal Islam is reporting that Nigel Farage is predicting a Ukip victory by around 25% in Clacton
12.40am Turnout in Clacton is a bit over 50%
12.30am The word is that the Lib Dems will lose their deposits in both by-elections.
12.15am Labour sources are saying that they think their vote share will be up on the general election but their majority narrowed by the low turnout.
12.05am The words from Heywood and Middleton is that the result is going to be closer than the polling suggested it would be.
11.40am Turnout in Heywood and Middleton is 36%
11.10am Ukip’s Tim Aker, speaking from the count in Clacton, says that the result in Heywood and Middleton will be ‘incredibly close’
11am Sky are suggesting that we could get the Heywood and Middleton result as early as 12.30am. Now, these result times often slip so don’t bank on it.
10.50pm Ever since the Mail on Sunday poll at the start of this campaign giving Ukip a forty point plus lead in Clacton, the Tories have privately conceded that the seat is lost. Now the polls have closed, the Tories are openly admitting this. But what they’re hoping for tonight is to be close enough to credibly claim that they have a chance of winning back the seat at the general election when their squeeze message that if you vote Ukip, you get Labour will have more resonance.
Welcome to The Spectator’s by-election live-blog. Tonight, we’ll find out if Ukip can win its first by-election, giving it an MP in the House of Commons. With an MP at Westminster, the Ukip insurgency will have a foothold in parliament.
Ukip is hot favourite to take Clacton. Douglas Carswell, who honourably triggered a by-election when he defected from the Tories to Ukip, has run an energetic campaign building on his personal popularity and is expected to win comfortably. This result is expected at about 1.30am.
But there is another by-election tonight in Heywood and Middleton. Labour is expected to hold on. But Ukip are confident of turning in a strong performance; securing 30 percent or more of the vote. The fact that Ukip is competing in both of these seats—one Tory, one Labour—illustrates how it is succeeding in appealing to those voters who feel left behind by the political class.
Stay with us for updates throughout the night.