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.

Turned on
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.

Somerset back
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.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.