Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Crewe cut

How do you know there's a by-election on? BBC reporters find themselves in the same train carriage as MPs (they don't all travel first class when they have to pay their way).

I spent the day in Crewe and Nantwich, where one bookmaker has stopped taking bets on the Conservatives taking the seat from Labour - something that hasn't happened in a by-election for 30 years.

Totally unscientific interviews with random voters threw up real hostility towards Gordon Brown and his Government, not just over the 10 pence tax rate fiasco but also over the price of petrol and the rising cost of living.

Labour supporters don't seem convinced by their campaign's attempts to portray the Tory candidate as a toff or by the argument that someone who lives in a £1.5m house can't represent ordinary voters. (One Labour Cabinet Minister has several homes worth far more - and reputedly even employs a butler)

The Liberal Democrats look set to be squeezed, although they had plenty of MPs on the campaign trail today. I even bumped into Lembit Opik as he introduced his party's candidate to shoppers.

Another Lib Dem MP, Tim Farron offered voters what he described as something rare - "a magazine without Lembit Opik in it".

"You're just jealous," said the MP for Montgomeryshire.

There are 10 candidates standing in Thursday's election. You can read all about them on the BBC website. Do click there - I'll be testing you on them later.

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