Labour and Ukip are facing crunch time, the Stoke-on-Trent by election has proved to be more interesting that initially anticipated. Mostly down to Paul Nuttall’s involvement, which has been a rocky road for him. If UKIP win, then it would mean that their leader would be a sitting MP for the first time in their history and they would have won a by-election for the first time.

Previously, their only 2 sitting MPs were by virtue of defections from the Conservatives, Douglas Carswell, one of those who still remains at Westminster.

The campaign trail

If Labour’s candidate, Gareth Snell, holds the seat, then it’ll show that they still have reach within those former heartlands. It also proves that they can outreach those who voted to in favour Brexit, 70% voted leave. It’ll most likely see a dramatic decline in UKIP as a political force afterwards. Labour’s campaign has been overshadowed by the controversial revelations about Paul Nuttall.

Paul Nuttall’s campaign has been highly publicised but for reasons he would want to forget, firstly, police are investigating him for possible electoral fraud after he had put his Stoke house as his home address. Then he had to retract a series of claims made on his website about his personal and professional life, notably that he had lost a close friend in the Hillsborough disaster.

Following what could be claimed as a disastrous campaign by UKIP the conservatives decided to get in on the act by posting a banner on Twitter, however, they misspelled Vrexit by calling it Bexit. Away from the realms of the internet, the Conservatives picked a 25-year-old local councillor, Jack Brereton, as their candidate.

But they have no expectation to win, meaning the efforts have been focused on Copeland.

The forgotten heartlands

If Labour wins it highlights that their appeal, or Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal still reaches those heartlands, especially since the inception of the Stoke-on-Trent seat in 1950 has been held by Labour albeit with a slowly dwindling majority.

If UKIP wins it’ll mean that their reach as a party is far more substantial and that they have been able to reinvent themselves since the leave vote last year.

The seat itself represents an opportunity. A part of the world that feels like they are perpetually overlooked by London, the former home of the potteries has recently been snubbed by the planners of the new high speed railway. It has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country. Voter apathy is high and they feel like no-one cares.