Ten candidates to contest by-election
Thursday 23 December 2010
Ten candidates will contest the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election following today's close of nominations.
British National Party leader Nick Griffin was reported as seeking to stand in the campaign but will not do so with Manchester activist Derek Adams selected to fight the seat.
The January 13 poll is viewed as the first major test of how the coalition Government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats intend to campaign against each other in the country.
The contest was triggered by a court decision annulling the general election result from May, when Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins missed out on the seat by just 103 votes.
It was declared void by an election court last month which found that victorious Labour candidate Phil Woolas had made false statements about Mr Watkins.
Although Mr Watkins is Labour's nearest challenger, the constituency was a three-way marginal in May with Conservative Kashif Ali - who is standing again - less than 2,500 votes behind.
Since then, the Lib Dems' fortunes have plummeted in national polls, suggesting any advances made by the Tories in Oldham East and Saddleworth will put paid to Mr Watkins' hopes of winning.
David Cameron has raised eyebrows by wishing Mr Watkins well in the January 13 poll, fuelling suspicions that Tories are not planning to mount a serious challenge.
However, Mr Cameron stressed this week that he would be visiting the constituency to campaign in person - a rare event for a prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg visited the constituency yesterday, saying his party was fighting for "every single vote".
Labour has selected Debbie Abrahams as its candidate for the by-election. Candidates from a range of smaller parties, including the Green Party, the BNP and the UK Independence Party were also confirmed today.
The Flying Brick, otherwise known as Nick Delves, will stand for the Monster Raving Loony Party.
The full list of candidates in alphabetical order are: Debbie Abrahams (Labour); Derek Adams (British National Party); Kashif Ali (Conservative); Peter Allen (Green Party); David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party); The Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony Party); Loz Kaye (Pirate Party of the United Kingdom); Stephen Morris (English Democrats); Paul Nuttall (UK Independence Party); Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrats).
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