Village People: Dave deserts the troops

Now that the Liberal Democrats have broken with convention to call an early by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth – the first January by-election on the British mainland since 1966 – the dilemma for the Tories is how hard they should fight it.

At the last election, the now disqualified Labour candidate, Phil Woolas, beat the Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins by only 108 votes. Labour has replaced him with a strong, locally based candidate, Debbie Abrahams, and Ed Miliband is throwing himself into the fray.

The best tactic for beating Labour might seem to be for the Tories quietly to encourage their supporters to fall in behind Mr Watkins. However, his share of the vote fell in 2010. The reason the contest was so close was that a chunk of the Labour vote defected to the Tory, Kashif Ali. With the Lib Dems in trouble nationally, many of the Tories argue that Mr Ali is the more credible challenger.

So they will not have been pleased to hear what David Cameron had to say yesterday: "The context of the by-election is that the MP elected at the election has been found in court to have told complete untruths about his opponent... In that context, we wish our partners well. They had an extremely tough time. All the unfairnesses and untruths about their candidate [Mr Watkins] – he's now been exonerated. So of course I wish them well." He did not sound like a leader intent on victory.

A short history of Miliband

Iain Dale, the Tory blogger, has said this week that he'll blog no more. Like the Labour MP and ex-blogger Tom Harris, he has had his fill of the nastiness in the blogosphere. But he has not disappeared. He tweeted excitedly the other day that his publishing firm has commissioned journalists Mehdi Hassan and James MacIntyre to write Ed Miliband's biography. Within minutes, the managing editor of the Financial Times, Robert Shrimsley, replied: "A biography of Ed Miliband!!! – there's barely enough for a tweet."

Bob, the bruiser at No 10

Man can claim to have fought apartheid when that evil existed, but few can make that boast as literally as Bob Roberts, of the Daily Mirror, who starts in January as a spin doctor for Ed Miliband. Just how fiercely he fought could be attested by a racist South African policeman who once came into contact with Roberts' fist.

Fascinatingly off topic

During a high-powered discussion in the Lords this week about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, up popped 73-year-old Lord Selsdon, who, in a 10-minute speech, told their lordships many things: that the UK has a longer coastline than India; that his great aunt Jenny Mitchell-Thompson gave him some BP shares 50 years ago which he sold to pay for his son to be privately educated; that the nations of the British Commonwealth have a combined merchant shipping fleet of 21,000 vessels; and that Stafford Cripps was his great uncle. Fascinating. But not once did he mention the oil spill.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas