Ukip types, already with a spring in their step this week, are further buoyed by the fact that they will be going into the Newark by-election with data up their sleeves. The Tory machine is in full swing on the ground, but the playing field has been levelled.
Whereas in previous by-elections Farage turned up to the pub or hung about meeting people in the market square, Newark will be different. Thanks to the proximity of the crunch Nottinghamshire ballot to the European and local elections, the self-styled ‘people’s army’ will be on an equal footing with the embedded local Tories, as they will be able to see exactly who voted last week.
The Marked Register is a copy ‘of the register used for the election with a mark by each elector that has voted’ that is released shortly after any election. The Electoral Commission guidance states: ‘On request and on payment of a fee, candidates and registered political parties are entitled to copies of the relevant part of the marked register of electors.’ This is then allowed to be used for electoral purposes within the realm of the Data Protection Act.
In layman’s terms that means Ukip will know exactly who voted in Newark last week and can target their resources to those individuals. Given that Ukip took 33 per cent of the vote at the local council elections, compared to 31 per cent the Tories managed, party sources seem rather pleased with this news. It’s a good bet that those who traipsed to the ballot box last Thursday will be more willing to do so on 5 June. Another headache for the Tories who are becoming increasingly concerned, despite their notional 16,000 majority in the seat.