The voters of the city of Peterborough go to their polling stations today to cast their votes in what could be an historic by-election.


First and foremost, I hope we can all set aside a little time today to remember the bravery and sacrifices of those that set out from the UK on this day 75 years ago, many of whom never returned from the beaches of France. D-Day, the start of the liberation of people in many of the nation states of Europe.

Now today there is another type of battle going on. The battle of the ballot box.

As most will know, there is a by-election in Peterborough brought about by the recall of the former Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya, over a criminal offence.

The polling booths are now open and voters in the city have until 10 pm to cast their vote.

There are fifteen candidates and according to the bookies and many pundits the favourite to win is Mike Green, who is standing for The Brexit Party led by the former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage.

This seat has been a bit of a marginal in the past.

In the 1997 general election Labour gained the seat from the Tories, with the Lib Dems a distant third.

The Tories won it back again in 2005 with Labour second and the Lib dems once again a distant third.

Then in 2017 Labour won it back with 22,950 votes, a majority of just 607 over the Tories and the Lib dems were a very distant third with just 1,597 votes.

But Brexit and the way it has split the two main parties asunder, has probably now damaged the usual two party state system – hopefully beyond repair.

And people are looking for something new.

So the emergence of The Brexit Party from nothing to being the winner of the EU parliament elections in just a few weeks, while also promising a clear out of politics and change, has has really put the feline amongst the columbidae!

On top of that the other winner from the EU elections was the resurgent Lib Dems who came second.

The Tories and Labour were left to lick their wounds.

The scuttlebutt on the by-election is that the Tories have virtually given up and Labour is not expected to do well.

But by-elections are funny beasts. The turnout is traditionally on the low side and they also provide an opportunity for voters to show a bit of a protest, so they usually favour the opposition.

But this one has been gearing up to be something else entirely.

It might well be the day that voters decide that the protest is against the whole two party state political establishment. They could vote in droves for The Brexit Party to send a very clear message to the government and parliament.

Now the pundits will be pouring over the stats from this by-election and, depending on the turnout, the winners and losers as well as the perspective of the analyser, there will be arguments over whether it was a Brexit vote, or a vote for change, or a remain vote, or just another protest vote.

It will be interesting to see what they make of any exit poll that comes out, once the polling station doors shut at 10 pm tonight.

And, within a few hours we will know for sure, if history has been made or not.

And for those wondering, although the BBC1 Question Time programme airs at 10:35 pm tonight, I believe it is recorded 'as live' one or two hours before that, so no results will be known to them. Unless they've changed the format of course.


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