By election: Polling battle starts in earnest

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Indy Politics
THE BY-ELECTION campaign for the marginal Cheshire seat of Sir Alastair Goodlad was formally launched in the Commons yesterday. The Eddisbury seat became vacant after Sir Alastair was appointed the next High Commissioner for Australia. James Arbuthnot, the Opposition Chief Whip, moved the writ for the poll to be held on 22 July.

Although Sir Alastair held the seat with a majority of only 1,185 at the last general election, Labour played down their chances. A senior party spokesman said it would be misleading to take the 1997 result as a starting point because the fall in the Conservatives' majority was part of the national swing against the party.

He added that the recent results of the European elections were probably more realistic when assessing a likely outcome. The Tories picked Stephen O'Brien as their candidate. Labour and Liberal Democrats have still to select.

1997 general election result: Goodlad (C) 21,027; Hanson (Lab) 19,842; Reaper (LD) 6,540; Napier (Referendum Party) 2,041.