Campaigning for the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election is underway as parties begin to choose candidates

Campaigning for the the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election has started with bookies tipping the Euro-sceptic UKIP to finish second.

Labour are odds on favourites to hold the seat. Their ruling National Executive Committee will shortlist candidates on Wednesday and party members will have the final  say at a selection meeting on Friday (January 24).

Reports suggest Manchester City councillor Rosa Battle leads the field with Cllr Mike Amesbury and former councillor and local activist Mike Kane also in the running.

The by-election will be held following the death of Paul Goggins, whose funeral took place on Thursday.

Speculation that UKIP, encouraged by good results in South Shields, Barnsley Central, Middlesborough and Rotherham could pull off a shock victory in the election, have been rubbished by Labour.

Tory supporter Toby Young believes UKIP could win the election if local Conservatives can be persuaded to vote tactically. Young is an advocate of the Country Before Party campaign which proposes that Conservative and UKIP voters swap their votes, tactically backing the only party that has a chance of winning.

In the general election in 2010 Paul Goggins was elected with 44.1 per cent of the vote with a majority of 7,000. If UKIP were to come close to winning the election they would need to take votes from Labour and the Tories and hope for a collapse in the Lib Dem vote. They could also benefit from a decline in the fortunes of the far right British National Party who polled 1,572 votes in 2010.

But with uncertainty over whether local Tories are willing to give up the ghost and whether the Conservatives nationally are willing to be beaten by UKIP, some pundits are saying a UKIP triumph is unlikely.

Indeed it is possible that the fear of finishing third in the election might result in more interest in Wythenshawe from the ruling party than would otherwise be the case.

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