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The Norwich North by-election was held on the 23rd July 2008 and took place as a result of the decision of the incumbent Ian Gibson to resign his seat. The constituency of Norwich North naturally included the northern half of the city of Norwich, around half the electorate lived outside the city boundaries in the Broadland district of Norfolk, a largely suburban if not rural area, that might be regarded as typical Tory territory. A boundary reorganisation had been announced, which saw the creation of an entirely new Broadlands seat that would take away some of these leafy conurbations, but this was not to take effect until the next General Election, leaving the by-election to be fought on the existing constituency boundaries.

The resignation of Ian Gibson

It was on the 21st May 2009 that the Daily Telegraph, as part of its investigation into MPs' expenses, turned its attention to Dr Ian Gibson and revealed that, although Gibson had published his expenses on his website, he had "redacted crucial information" and promised that it would be revealing the "full details" of the "questionable expenses" he had incurred in respect of his west London flat on the following day. On the 22nd May the Telegraph followed up on its promise and reported that Gibson had purchased his London flat back in 1999 and duly claimed the cost of mortgage interest, council tax and utility bills under the Additional Costs Allowance. However although Gibson had stayed there for between three and five nights a week, he had also allowed his daughter Helen and her partner William Turner to live there rent free. What was more he had then sold the property to them in 2008 at the knock-down price of £162,000, and claimed that Gibson had sought to "cover up" his daughter's involvement in his housing arrangements.

Gibson denied that he had done anything wrong, or that he'd tried to hide anything, but nevertheless on the 2nd June 2009 he came before the special endorsements panel of the National Executive Committee, otherwise known as the Labour Party 'star chamber;, which had been set up to pass judgement on those MPs accused of various crimes under the now discredited expenses system. And on that day Gibson became one of the four Members of Parliament who had their endorsement as Labour candidates rescinded.

Naturally Gibson was not happy with this decision, particularly since the 'star chamber's' decision was based on the Code of Conduct clause in The Green Book, which specified that any claim made by MPs should not give rise to "improper personal financial benefits to themselves or anyone else", and that Gibson had contravened this clause by permitting his daughter to enjoy an improper financial benefit. For his part, Gibson noted that the clause wasn't put into the Green Book until 2009, and didn't see how it could be retrospective applied to conduct before that date, and that in any case he didn't believe that there was anything improper about providing a home for one's daughter. He also argued that he had no interest in making a profit on the flat, and had simply sold it to his daughter for a sum sufficient to clear the mortgage that was outstanding, and didn't see what the difference would have been if he'd sold the property to her at market value and then given her the cash profit he'd theoretically received. He further complained that the 'star chamber' wasn't interested in what he or anyone else had to say in his defence, and that they had already made up their minds.

Martin Booth, who was president of Norwich Labour party, similarly complained that "It was not a star chamber, it was a kangaroo court", and that the Party had "wanted to make an example" of Gibson because he was a "bit of a maverick" who had often voted against the government and that it was nothing more than "a chance to get rid of him". Booth, a member of the Labour Party for thirty years, later announced that he'd "had enough" and would be leaving politics completely. Sue Whitaker, the leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council was also reported as being "disgusted" with the way that Gibson had "been treated", whilst the local Lowestoft Journal claimed that "grassroots Labour activists" were "on the verge of revolt".

Having waited until the elections were over, on the 5th June Ian Gibson announced that he would resign his seat. Indeed whatever one might have thought of the morality of Gibson's expense claims, there was a certain dignity in the manner in which he concluded that his party's decision to disown him also rendered him unable to properly represent his constituents. Whilst, as The Guardian later commented, there was an "irony in the fact that the first MP to leave the Commons over his expenses was by no means the worst offender". Although quite possibly it was just Gibson's way of delivering a loud 'fuck you' message to Gordon Brown.

The only question that remained was when the by-election would be held. On the 19th June the local Norwich North Labour Party voted by a margin of 45 to 27 for an immediate by-election, on the quite understandable grounds that the constituency might otherwise be effectively without an MP for as long as five months. It was said however, that Gordon Brown wanted to wait until the autumn and hold it at the same time as the Glasgow North-East by-election, presumably in the hope that something might turn up in the meantime. (There being no way that Labour would hold the Glasgow North-East contest in the middle of the Glasgow Fair and repeat the mistake they made with the Glasgow East by-election of the previous year.)

Late on 29th June The Spectator reported that the "word in Westminster" was that the writ would be moved on the following day with the poll itself on the 23rd July. As it turned out the Spectator was right, as on the following day the writ for the by-election was indeed moved, and the 23rd July was indeed the day. The belief was that Labour had decided to hold the Norwich North by-election as soon as possible in order to get the bad news out of the way.

The Candidates

The first question to answer was whether Ian Gibson would contest the seat as an independent. Granted he was seventy years old, but he'd shown no previous sign of wishing to retire, and when interviewed by Michael Crick on Newsnight on the 26th June 2009, he hinted that he might well stand as an independent, although the implication was that his decision would depend on who Labour picked as his replacement. Three days later however, on the 29th June, he told BBC Look East that he would not be standing, being presumably satisfied with the decision taken by the local Labour Party at the Holiday Inn in north Norwich on the previous day. They chose Chris Ostrowski, a John Lewis employee and one of Gibson's former students from the University of East Anglia, who had recently been on the party's list for the East of England region in the 2009 European elections, although he was rather pointedly described by the Eastern Daily Press as a "party activist from London"

The Conservative Party already had their candidate in place in the form of Chloe Smith. She described herself as "a Norfolk girl through and through" who worked for a "professional services firm", that is a firm of accountants, and had already been featured by The Guardian some months previously as one of their 'New Tories'.

As usual the Liberal Democrats made rather a meal of their selection process. According to Ian Dale, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg personally approached Martin Bell to ask him to stand, and after he'd politely declined then approached Peter Franzen, the "veteran editor" of the Eastern Daily Press with the same offer, and with the same result. The Lib Dems were therefore obliged to choose one of their own and selected the charmingly named April Pond, who was already their PPC for the neighbouring Broadlands seat, but since that constituency (which would only come into existence at the next General Election) would include some wards that were currently in Norwich North, it sort of made sense.

The Green Party already had a candidate in Adrian Holmes, who had stood at the last General Election, but they decided to re-open their selection process and plumped for one Rupert Read, a reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and a councillor on Norwich City Council, and another unsuccessful candidate at the recent European elections. The United Kingdom Independence Party had Glenn Tingle, formerly of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Now running his own construction company, he wanted to "expel illegal immigrants", "tear up the Human Rights Act", and of course leave the European Union.

The British National Party opted for Robert West, otherwise known as the Reverend Robert West, "the party's vicar" who ran his own church from a house in Holbeach, and was active in the BNP religious front group known as the Christian Council of Britain (CCB), and spent his time touring the local churches in Norfolk complaining that they were "drifting away from Christianity". He had previously been the Conservative councillor for the Holbeach Town ward of South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire, before he defected to the BNP on the grounds that the Conservative Party was choosing Parliamentary candidates who were clearly unsuitable to serve in that capacity. Such as women, blacks, asians, homosexuals, and lesbians.

They were joined by an independent named Bill Holden who had previously contested the seat at the last General Election who was standing under the banner of 'Bringing representation back to the people', and another independent named Craig Murray who was standing as an "anti-sleaze and anti-party" candidate under the banner of 'Put an Honest Man into Parliament'. Murray even had his own official campaign song, and attracted some attention since he had once been the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan between 2002 and 2004, before he was recalled after it was alleged that he had been issuing visas in exchange for sexual favours. He was later cleared of all charges, and claimed that the allegations against him were based on Uzbek intelligence data that had been gained by torture. He had subsequently become something of a human rights campaigner, before divorcing his first wife and marrying an Uzbeki belly dancer named Nadira Alievau, who he had met while she was working in a nightclub.

As befitted the traditional by-election contest the Official Monster Raving Loony Party was represented by one 'Howling Laud', otherwise known as Alan Hope, who succeeded Screaming Lord Sutch as Party leader in 1999 and had served in that capacity ever since. (Although technically speaking he was only joint party leader from 1999 to 2002, as he shared his duties with a feline named Cat-Mandu until the latter was sadly run over and killed.)

The Libertarian Party decided to field its first ever candidate for a Westminster election in the form of one Thomas Burridge, the "youngest candidate ever to stand for Parliament" as he was only eighteen, and had never in fact even voted and was still at school, at least until he'd finished sitting his A levels. The other party breaking itself in at the by-election was NOTA, or None of the Above, which had had been established only a few months previously by Terry Marsh, the former British, European and IBF light welterweight champion, who once stood trial for the attempted murder of the boxing promoter Frank Warren. Its candidate was Anne Fryatt who was from Leeds and worked "in marketing", although Mr Marsh was realistic about her chances; "We're not looking to win the by-election. If our candidate gets just ten votes, and people in the constituency have become aware of us, and know about us, then it will have been a success."

By the time nominations closed on the 8th July they were all joined by another independent in the form of a sixty year old plasterer from Wombourne near Wolverhampton named Peter Baggs. His platform was essentially that he promised that, if elected he would vote in accordance with the wishes of the majority of his constituents, although he failed to provide any details as to how he was going to ascertain what these wishes were on an ongoing basis.

The Campaign

Strangely enough the campaign itself attracted little attention in the national press, as the media appeared to be more concerned with the death toll in Afghanistan and whether or not it had anything to do with the Government's reluctance to spend money on helicopters. However those journalists that did venture up to Norwich claimed that, despite his transgressions, Dr Gibson remained was the "most popular man in Norwich" as The Guardian called him, with one local voter describing him as the "best MP in the country" who "had time for everybody". Writing in The Times, one Sam Coates claimed that he had found "little sign of anger at Dr Gibson over his expenses" in Norwich but "plenty of fury ... at Labour for ejecting him from the party", and that Gibson was "much loved locally" and possessed "a huge personal following amongst the Tory inclined voter". Jane Merrick similarly reported in The Independent on Sunday on the 19th July 2009 that "Nearly everyone you speak to in Norwich wants to vote for Mr Gibson". This was clearly something of an exaggeration, as even when Gibson's name was on the ballot paper he had never managed to win more than half the vote even at the high watermark of Labour's support in 1997.

Nevertheless it did suggest a certain abiding affection for Gibson amongst the voters of Norwich North, a fact which clearly caused problems for the very party that had effectively ejected him from Parliament. It was soon noted that despite the fact that Gibson had apparently endorsed his Labour successor, he had failed to make any effort to campaign on his behalf. (Indeed the Green candidate Rupert Read was subsequently to claim that he had been privately endorsed by Gibson.) On the 15th July the Eastern Daily Press drew attention to Gibson's "continuing absence from the fight". Indeed even Charles Clarke was reported as saying that the "Labour campaign would be greatly assisted if Ian were publicly to demonstrate that support"; or as Sky News put it 'Charles's Plea To Ian: Help!'

In these circumstances many would have agreed with the Daily Telegraph's view that "Labour's 5,459 majority in Norwich North" was "likely to be comfortably overturned by the Conservatives" who would "pile resources into the Norfolk battle". Andy McSmith of The Independent was one who did, describing the challenge facing the Labour candidate as "mission impossible" and that the seat seemed "certain to go Tory". The bookmakers certainly agreed as well, as on the 29th June William Hill had the Conservatives at 6-1 on with Labour at 5-1, the Liberal Democrats and Greens at 16-1 and UKIP at 66-1, whilst Ladbrokes had the Conservatives at more or less even money, Labour at 5.5-1, but otherwise favoured the Greens at 13-1, with the Lib Dems out at 34-1 with Craig Murray.

The one early indication of how the voting might go came from an ICM poll of the constituency, commissioned by the University and College Union, which appeared on the 26th June and showed the Conservatives on 34%, Labour on 30%, Liberal Democrats on 15%, and the Green Party on 14%. However the effective sample size was only 294 and it was therefore subject to a considerable margin of error, whilst it was noted that a similar ICM poll conducted before the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in May 2008 had similarly put the Conservatives 'only' four points ahead of Labour. In any event this turned out to be the only constituency poll that was carried out, something which confused a number of journalists, as a number of papers later reported the same poll results as if they were the latest news, rather than something that was a few weeks old.

Perhaps more objectively, the Eastern Daily Press carried out an analysis of the voting in the 4th June local elections, and although there was no exact overlap between council wards and the constituency, it estimated that the result would have been Conservatives 10,656 (40.1%); Labour 4,953 (18.6%); Lib Dem 4,371 (16.5%); Green 4,251 (16.0%); UKIP 2,106 (7.9%); BNP 228 (0.9%). None of which stopped the Guardian from seeing the contest as "a four-way fight" which it believed "could be a political watershed for the Green party".

As far as the Green Party was concerned, Norwich North was regarded as something of a potential opportunity. They were already the second largest party on Norwich City Council, with thirteen seats against fifteen for Labour, and their leader Caroline Lucas, believed that they had the chance to "do something remarkable". However their political base was more in Norwich South than North. Indeed Rupert Read's Facebook campaign page contained an almost desparate plea for help in delivering leaflets as well as a plea for money; the Green Party apparently needed "to raise at least £10,000 in the next month just to start to compete in this unexpected election". All of which suggested that perhaps their ground-level strength wasn't quite what it was cracked up to be.

Nevertheless this probably explained why the Liberal Democrats seemed more concerned with attacking the Greens rather than anyone else. They began their campaign by promising that they would "keep the election clean" and then promptly issued a press release that referred to the Green Party candidate as an "extremist" who was a "danger to Norwich", as well as a campaign leaflet that included the headline 'Residents shocked by Green Party candidates terror views' and referred to Read's "extreme views" at least three times. Apparently Dr Read was a confirmed vegan who had once compared "eating meat with the holocaust", and had also written a letter to the Independent in 2005 to offer his opinions on the July 7th terrorist attack, specifically that the country "had this coming to us".

It was clear that there was bad blood here, as Read was a former member of the Liberal Democrats who had abandoned the party when they refused to "outflank Labour from the left" as he suggested. Earlier on the 20th April 2008 he had also posted an article on his blog that accused a Liberal Democrat councillor named Judith Lubbock of perjuring herself again, and then a few days later on the 26th April apologised and withdrew the allegation. He also apparently blamed his former party, or the FibDems as he liked to call them, for his failure to get elected at the recent European elections, as they had been circulating leaflets throughout the region which claimed that the Green Party 'couldn't win'.

None of which probably had any effect on the Liberal Democrats whose attitude was best summed up by Norman Lamb, the member for North Norfolk, who claimed that a vote for the Green Party would "let the Tories in by dividing non-Tory voters", presumably unaware of the fact that Labour (or indeed anyone else) could have said much the same about his own party.

Rupert Read also promised to "keep the campaign clean" and called on the other candidates to support his 'Clean Start for Norwich North' pledge, which consisted of promises to only "tell only the truth about the achievements of their party, make only reasonable promises and stick to campaigning on issues that concern the people of Norwich North without resorting to personal attacks", together with various commitments relating to the expenses they would claim if and when elected. Both Chloe Smith (Conservative) and Glenn Tingle (UKIP) happily signed up, although April Pond (Liberal Democrat) dismissed it as a "gimmick", and Chris Ostrowski (Labour) claimed that it didn't go far enough, and produced his own twenty-five point "pledge to clean up politics" which amounted to much the same thing.

A Local Candidate for Local People

As with most by-elections, there was a running contest as to which party had the most 'local' candidate. April Pond proclaimed that she was "From Norwich, for Norwich". However it was soon noted that she gave her address as Shelton Hall, which was clearly not in Norwich, but rather fifteen miles away to the south on the Suffolk border. It was also claimed that that Shelton Hall came equipped with its own moat, although given the geography of East Anglia it was likely only a drainage ditch. (But then again, what is a moat but a drainage ditch surrounding a property owned by a Conservative MP.)

Craig Murray similarly tried to suggest that the Conservatives were somehow being cagey about the true origins of their candidate who had proclaimed herself as "a Norfolk girl". Chloe Smith duly posted her own response on Murray's blog and pointed out that there was in fact "no mystery", simply because no one had actually asked her where she had been born, and quite happily admitted to having been at Ashford in Kent, although her family had moved to Norfolk when she was three and she had lived there ever since, apart from a three year stint at the University of York studying English.

This might have been good enough for most people, but didn't satisfy the Liberal Democrats who claimed that she was a "Westminster insider" because she had once worked for some Conservative MPs, and was currently on secondment to the Conservative Party. They also accused Ostrowski of being a "London Labour politician" and delighted in revelation made by the Eastern Daily Press of the 10th July that Ostrowski "had a secret Tory past", in that had once been a member of Conservative Future whilst he was at university. Presumably this was all to make up for the fact that their candidate April Pond looked rather 'scary' in many of publicity stills.

Of course since the Conservatives had the advantage of a candidate already in place, they were ready to roll as soon as Gibson announced his intention to stand down. Indeed by the 13th June David Cameron had already managed to make two visits to the area and had declared his support for the local Evening News's 'Love Your Local' campaign as well their 'Do Different Do Norfolk' campaign, when he recalled going crabbing on the mud flats outside Brancaster during his youth. In general it appeared that the Conservatives had decided that the electorate was in no mood for the usual knockabout style of by-election politics, and so their campaign largely concentrated on not making any mistakes and getting their vote out, whilst highlighting the attractions of the undoubtedly photogenic Ms Smith, described by The Guardian as "exactly the sort of candidate New Labour used to select".

As far as the incumbent Labour Party was concerned, it was an "uphill fight", as Charles Clarke admitted to Sky News's Sunday Live programme on the 19th July, particularly given the lack of apparent enthusiasm for the fight amongst its own ranks. As noted earlier, many in the local Party were unhappy with the Gibson's treatment and were so unwilling to campaign, whilst the Mail on Sunday of the 19th July claimed that many Labour MPs were also boycotting the contest and quoted Janet Anderson, the member for Rossendale and Darwen, one of those who was "taking part in the boycott", who explained that "there is anger in the party at the way Ian Gibson has been treated". There was certainly no sign of Gordon Brown putting in an appearance. Asked at Prime Minister's Questions on the 1st July as to whether he would be campaigning in Norwich, Brown would only say that he was "not commenting on that at the moment", a statement which led the Eastern Daily Press to run the headline 'Gordon Brown snubs Norwich election battle'.

The Labour Party did however manage to persuade former EastEnders star Michelle Collins to join their candidate for a walkabout in the city, although "contractual commitments" forbade her from making any kind of formal statement in support of the party. But despite this celebrity endorsement the Labour campaign was generally described as being "lacklustre" and even "deliberately" so. According to the Telegraph, "Labour insiders" were predicting a "meltdown" in the Labour vote, whilst the Financial Times found another insider who told them that expectations were so low that even "a single vote will be seen as a strong platform for a fight back". Labour's initial strategy appeared to focus on attacking the Conservatives on the future spending cuts they would make if allowed into power. (Presumably on the basis that they would be deeper and less 'fair' than the future spending cuts they would be obliged to make.) Unfortunately this did not appear to work, which left them with little to say, and such was the level of apparent desperation within the Labour ranks, they even recycled a slogan from the Eddisbury By-election of 1999 which featured in leaflets bearing the picture of a young fox cub and the headline 'Vote Labour or the fox gets its', presumably in the hope that this might attract at least a few extra votes.

Nevertheless Bob Blizzard, the member for Waveney, who was running the Labour campaign insisted that the party was fighting for very vote, and even found time to complain that the Conservatives were "running scared" because they'd declined to take part in one or two hustings, and that they were "more interested in TV and radio appearances than in having a genuine debate with people in Norwich North". Just how enthusiastic the people of Norwich North were in such debates was questionable, given that one hustings event scheduled for Hellesdon High School on the 14th July was cancelled after only three people turned up, and another organised by Age Concern for the 16th attracted an audience of just twenty-five.

The independent candidate Bill Holden also found something to say about the coverage of the contest, which he claimed was "fast becoming one of the most corrupt in modern history", apparently because he had "not been given equal access to TV" or generally given a fair hearing in the media, and he hadn't been invited to any of the hustings. But as irksome as this must have been for Mr Holden, this was simply a reflection of the fact that no one believed that he had the slightest chance of even saving his deposit, let alone actually winning the contest.

The Final Weekend

During the final weekend of the campaign two opinion polls were published. The first, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, showed the Conservatives two points up on 42%, Labour up one point on 25%, and the Liberal Democrats unchanged on 18%. The second was a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday which had the Conservatives on 38%, Labour on 23% and the Liberal Democrats up four points on 22%, a result which allowed the Independent to run its report under the headline 'Lib Dems now breathing down Labour's neck'. No doubt Nick Clegg would have drawn greater comfort from the latter than the former, but then again recent history had showed a tendency for ComRes polls to report spikes in Lib Dem support which rapidly disappeared as soon as their next poll was commissioned, it likely did not amount to much.

A similar picture was shown in further national polls conducted by IPSOS Mori and Populus which appeared a few days later. All of which suggested that nothing much had changed during the campaign. Indeed a review of the betting on the 19th July showed that William Hill had the Conservatives at 20-1 on, with Labour at 10-1, Liberal Democrats at 16/1, and the Green Party at 25-1. Both Ladbrokes and Betfair had similar odds on the Conservatives and even longer odds on the rest of the field. With such short odds on offer for the favourite, Ladbrokes tried to excite some interest in the contest by opening a book on who would come second, as did William Hill, confirming the general consensus that the real battle was over who would come second.

The Result

The Norwich North by-election was the first by-election to be held in the aftermath of the MPs' Expense Scandal, a fact which many believed explained why, in the words of Ken Clarke, there was a "very odd atmosphere" in the constituency. The general impression being that the electors of Norwich North weren't that happy with politicians in general, and the overall campaign battle seemed rather downbeat compared to excitement generated by the Crewe and Nantwich by-election of the previous year. In fact the most dramatic event in the whole campaign occurred on the morning of the 21st July when the Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski collapsed at home and was taken to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital by ambulance with suspected swine flu. Peter Mandelson promptly cancelled his visit to the constituency for fear of succumbing to the virus.

The press seemed to be unanimous on what the result would be a Conservative victory; "Brown braced for defeat" said The Guardian, "Tories tipped to win" said Reuters, "Labour set for bloody nose" said the Evening Standard. Even the Daily Mirror felt that the result was "such a foregone conclusion" that they wondered why Labour were even "bothering to turn up". The Daily Telegraph concluded that Gordon Brown "appeared to concede defeat" or "ran up the white flag" as The Sun put it, although no one appeared to have told Andy Burnham who was "very confident that we can win this by-election". However whilst the Conservatives were expected to win, the Liberal Democrats believed that they were second, and even provided The Guardian with a breakdown of their 6,000 "contacts" with voters over the past three weeks, which showed the Conservatives on 31.5%, the Liberal Democrats on 24%, Labour on 19.5%, and the Green Party on 11%.

In a break from tradition there was no overnight count; the official explanation for this "delay" the "higher than usual number of postal ballots" which required additional verification. The count therefore licked off at 9.30 am on the morning of the 24th July at a marquee in the Royal Norfolk Showground. The turnout was confirmed at 45.88% which was about average for a by-election, and at 12.50 pm the candidates gathered on stage for the declaration. To no one's surprise Chloe Smith was declared the victor with 13,591 votes, well ahead of the Labour candidate with 6,243 votes, and the Liberal Democrats on 4,803. UKIP came in fourth only some seven hundred votes behind the Lib Dems, ahead of the Green Party who had to settle for fifth place.

All of which meant that when Ms Smith took her seat in the House of Commons at the end of the summer recess she would, at twenty-seven years of change become the youngest member of the House of Commons and therefore enjoy the unofficial title of 'Baby of the House'.

The media verdict on the result was fairly predictable and uniform with headlines such as 'Humiliating by-election defeat for Brown as Labour loses Norwich North' (The Guardian), 'Labour crushed by Tories' (Daily Telegraph), 'Labour crashes to by-election defeat' (The Independent), and 'Labour humbled in expenses scandal by-election' (The Times) and so forth.

From David Cameron's point of view it was an "historic" victory, and whilst the Conservatives might have been disappointed that their win wasn't even more emphatic, given that their share of the vote wasn't over 40%, the size of the majority fell into the category of 'better than expected' with a 16.49% swing from Labour. This was not quite as big as the 17.6% swing seen at Crewe and Nantwich, but big enough to make David Cameron a very happy man indeed if reproduced at a General Election. (The Independent claimed that it would mean a Conservative majority of 218.)

For the Labour Party, a fall in their share of the vote from almost 45% to just over 18% was clearly nothing short of disastrous, and very close to being a 'meltdown'. As Michael White noted on his Guardian Blog, it was a "grim result for Brown" but "a pretty good one for the Tories". Neither was the Liberal Democrat result anything to write home about. Having received 16% of the vote at the 2005 General Election, they had now polled only 14%, a rather poor result from the party that once prided itself on producing by-election upsets. It was however an encouraging result for UKIP and supported their claim to be the nation's "fourth party" as they registered their best ever by-election result, but rather disappointing for the Green Party as there was little sign of any great breakthrough even if it was also their 'best ever by-election result'. As far as the rest of the field were concerned there was not a great deal to say, but at least Craig Murray had the consolation of coming ahead of the British National Party.

The Norwich North by-election result in full

Turnout 34,377 (45.88%)


The above article is naturally drawn from a variety of reports in the British media including BBC News, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and their Sunday equivalents, as well as The Sun, Daily Mirror and the News of the World, and local newspapers such as the Norwich Advertiser and the Eastern Daily Press.

  • Allegra Stratton, Labour accused of operating 'kangaroo court' in expenses row, The Guardian, 3 June 2009
  • Norwich anger over Labour star chamber, 04 June 2009
  • Labour MP Ian Gibson resigns, Daily Telegraph, 05 Jun 2009 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/5453955/Labour-MP-Ian-Gibson-resigns.html
  • Rebecca Gough, Battle begins to replace quitting Gibson, Evening News, 07 June 2009
  • Press Statement, Friday 5th June 2009
  • Sarah Brealey, Norwich North Labour candidate chosen, Eastern Daily Press, 28/06/2009
  • Andrew Porter, Gordon Brown risks July by-election defeat, Daily Telegraph, 30 Jun 2009
  • Brown to gamble with July 23 by-election in Norwich North, The Times, June 30, 2009
  • Nic Rigby, City candidates give their views, BBC News, 14 July 2009
  • Brendan Carlin, Labour risks humiliation as MPs boycott by-election over Ian Gibson's resignation, Mail on Sunday, 19th July 2009
  • Neil Tweedie, Norwich by-election: your verdict please, Daily Telegraph, 21 Jul 2009
  • Alex Barker, Voters threaten to shake up political class, Financial Times, July 21 2009
  • Andrew Sparrow, Norwich North byelection results – live, The Guardian, 24 July 2009

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