This surely must be one for the leader to lead
On the face of it the Eastleigh by-election is ideal for Nigel Farage and Ukip. His party, one CCHQ official told me this afternoon, is probably better organised there than anywhere else in the UK.
Back in May 2012 Ukip fielded candidates in every single seat in the council elections and achieved a vote share in double figures.
On top of that there’s the local connection. Farage was a Ukip candidate in the last Eastleigh by-election in 1994.
The word from Ukip tonight is that Farage is considering the situation and would decide within the next 48 hours. Eastleigh, it is being said, is “very close to his heart”.
Unlike every other GB by-election since May 2010 this is being defended by one coalition party where the other party is in second place. Although that should make it attractive it also makes it very challenging
For there’s little doubt that the yellows and blues are going to throw everything at each other in a high-octane, highly intensive campaign that will attract a lot of media attention.
It will be an enormous test of the ground campaigning capabilites of all contenders – an area where Ukip has sometimes struggled.
There’s also the possibility that a high-profile Farage campaign could take enough votes away from the Tories to let the yellows back in.
Farage, himself, would not want to fail at what would be his sixth attempt to win a Westminster seat. His last time out against Speaker Bercow at the #GE2010 saw him end up in third place on 17% behind a Pro-EU Conservative.
Whatever he needs to make up his mind quickly.
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