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13 July 2009

A boxer and a vegan head for Norfolk

The eclectic range of candidates for the Norwich North by-election and a reminder of Alan Patridge's

By Paul Evans

Normal for Norwich

This week the candidates in the Norwich North byelection were been formally announced, although it makes little difference to the parties who have already been campaigning for weeks. The race to fill the seat vacated by Dr Ian Gibson has attracted a clutch of independents, including a former welterweight boxing champ and Craig Murray, whose campaign we have previously noted on Best of the Politics Blogs.

Murray aside, the race pits a very young Tory against a Labour’s very young candidate. Voters seeking experience over youth can lend their support to a Green vegan called Rupert, or the Lib Dem candidate – who is named April Pond and who has been so successful that she is able to maintain a moat without taxpayer subsidy.

On Political Betting, questions were being asked about the apparent lack of media interest in the contest, while it was revealed that the bookies reckon Conservative victory is likely, with best odds at 1/6.

But at least BBC News 24 were interested! UEA politics lecturer Nick Anstead beat off nerves to conduct his first TV interview, in which he considered the Green Party’s prospects.

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Noting their “high hopes because of the one opinion poll published since Ian Gibson’s resignation, which put them on 14 per cent,” Anstead was sceptical of their ability to bring in more than 7 or 8% of the vote. “If the Greens were to achieve parity with their Norwich South vote, that would be a great result for them, being a 300 per cent increase,” he explained, adding that hype around the campaign may mean that “a very good result for them may be seen as disappointing”.

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Meanwhile the candidate in question, blogger Rupert Read, was making endless endless pledges.

Christopher Gilmour, or “ill and ancient,” was hoping for a good result for the very, very young Libertarian, Twitterer Thomas Burridge. But he noted the lack of images of the young candidate, quipping: “maybe he’s just too young to leave much of a snail trail online”.

Also on the web, Andreas Paterson thinks there is an “incredible atmosphere of enthusiasm” in the Labour camp and this commentary blog wondered whether anyone was taking the campaign seriously. Fear not – the NS will be taking it seriously.

What have we learned this week?

That the prime minister this week enjoyed his first meeting with the Libyan leader. In the same week Nick Griffin revealed that he wants to sink boats full of immigrants heading across the Med and send their (overwhelmingly non-Libyan) occupants back to Libya. Gareth Allen remarked: “It is certainly instructive that Colonel Gaddafi is more welcoming of illegal immigrants than Nick Griffin”. Their interests may no longer coincide, but this was not always so. In 1988 Griffin travelled to Tripoli at Gadaffi’s expense to discuss funding for National Front.

Around the World

This week our new Defence Secretary warned of further British combat deaths in Afghanistan. Over in Kabul, Sanjar Qiam recently carried an image that may hearten soldiers.

Videos of the Week

Norwich’s most famous man is Alan Partridge. Having proved his journalistic prowess covering the 1997 general election, the BBC must surely invite him back to cover developments in his home city.

Quote of the Week

“I wonder if the Chloe Smith who claims to be “Norfolk through and through” is the same Chloe Smith who Conservativehome tell us reached the final four for the Conservative candidacy in…. Ipswich. ”

Hopi Sen doubts the credentials of the Tory candidate.