Show some Respect
The Poplar vote
The race for the east London seat of Poplar and Limehouse - a three-way marginal where Labour, the Conservatives and Respect are all in with a chance - is getting even more competitive. The incumbent MP, Labour's Jim Fitzpatrick, has been targeted by George Galloway of Respect for walking out of a gender-segregated Muslim wedding, offending local residents. At the last election, Fitzpatrick's majority was 7,129, but with boundary changes his lead has fallen to just 3,942.
Galloway is winning a lot of support from the Bangladeshi community, which accounts for 40 per cent of the electorate. However, polls show thatthe Tories could win their first East End seat in a century; they need a swing of 5.75 per cent. Of the 117 seats David Cameron must win to secure a majority of one, Poplar and Limehouse is number 105.
Political engagement is in decline, we are often told, yet a record number of candidates will stand at this election - 4,149, equivalent to 6.4 per seat. And manifesto sales are up 160 per cent on 2005. There now seems to be a good chance that turnout will rise from the 61.3 per cent at the last election.
Lord Pearson, Ukip's increasingly risible leader, may face a post-election rebellion, having urged Somerset voters to support the Conservatives. Pearson wrote to the Mid Somerset News and Media group explaining that he wanted to avoid a split in the Eurosceptic vote but was unable to force Ukip candidates to stand down. The question of who will pay for their lost deposits remains unanswered.