If you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try and maybe, you know, try again.
That is the situation Nigel Farage finds himself in as one of the influential politicians of modern times could potentially make his eighth run at winning a seat on the Green Benches in the forthcoming General Election…
I was only ten when the 1994 Eastleigh by-election took place in June of 1994. It was a dramatic win for the Liberal Democrats as they won with a 16.8% swing from the Conservatives. The result saw John Major’s party pushed into third behind Labour as well.
It was a disaster all around but one man, a relatively unknown former City Banker stood for a party called UKIP and received 952 votes. That person was Nigel Farage and that was his first run at winning a seat in the House of Commons.
In the intervening years, I've turned from a relatively bright-eyed youngster into a cynical 40-something but more importantly in terms of this piece, we’ve seen Nigel Farage fail on six other occasions to get a seat in the chamber as the people of Salisbury, Bexhill & Battle, Bromley & Chislehurst, Buckingham and South Thanet (twice) have rejected him but there is plenty of chatter that he isn’t finished yet.
His latest political vehicle, Reform UK, is starting to pick-up political momentum and a seat has been identified in Essex, which could finally see the 59-year-old take his place in the next parliament.
Clacton was the only seat that UKIP ever won in a General Election setting. A couple of by-election victories in 2014 (both in this seat along with Rochester & Strood) from defected Tories gave the party hope that when the 2015 General Election came around, they could make a serious impression but it was only this constituency which gave them a win.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the air had come out of UKIP after the Brexit vote and the Tories went on to win back the seat in the snap General Election called by Theresa May.
The undercurrent of right-wing populism however has not gone away for good as the Reform UK: The Brexit Party (to give it its full name) is now constantly hitting double-digits in polling and battling the Liberal Democrats to be the third most popular party in the country.
Translating such support into seats though will be tough and in realistic terms, only a handful of constituencies are even in play. They face a similar conundrum to what the Green Party faces, with significant enough support but facing an uphill battle to see that turn into actual results.
This is where Nigel Farage comes in. A recent constituency poll (paid for by Aaron Banks) has suggested that should he decide to run, then he would be the favourite to win the seat in a three-way tussle with Labour and the Conservatives. The party though need that name recognition to get over the hump. Without him on the ballot, it would be a much tighter affair.
As often happens, it all comes down to what the former I’m a Celebrity… contestant desires. If he does indeed want one (final?) run at fulfilling what seems to have been a lifelong obsession and become elected to the House of Commons, then this is the landing spot he’ll surely pick.
72% of the electorate voted for Brexit back in 2016 and they have already voted for UKIP in both a by-election and General Election setting. Betfred make Nigel Farage a 4/1 shot to win a seat at the upcoming General Election. This means implied odds indicating that this is a 20% chance of happening.
If Farage does indeed announce that he does intend to run in Clacton, those odds will surely shorten and it would immediately become the most watched seat in the country. I would certainly not put it past him to finally get a win when it comes to an election to the House of Commons.
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