Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Sunday, 5 July 2009 14:30 UK

Parties gear up for by-election

by Andrew Sinclair
Political Correspondent, BBC Look East

Ian Gibson
Former MP Ian Gibson, who stood down after expenses allegations

A date has been set for a by-election in the Norwich North constituency following the resignation of Ian Gibson.

He stood down after Labour's so called "star chamber" found him guilty by of mis-claiming on his expenses - a charge he continues to deny.

The seat covers the northern suburbs of the city. It includes prosperous areas like Sprowston and Thorpe St Andrew but also some of the city's poorer area like Mile Cross.

With a general election less than a year away, a lot rests on the outcome of this seat. It is regarded as one of the safer Labour seats in East Anglia.

If the Conservatives can overturn Dr Gibson's 5,500 majority it will be a big boost to their confidence and show that they are capable of winning power nationally.

Labour is not only unpopular nationally, the Ian Gibson affair divided the party and upset many constituents.

Green Party hopes

If it can hold onto the seat it will be a sign that the party can still command significant support.

The Liberal Democrats have never held the seat but believe that there is growing disenchantment with Labour and the Conservatives which will lead to an increase in support.

The Green Party has come a long way in recent years. It is now the main opposition party on Norwich City Council and holds seven seats on the county council.

They were putting their efforts into trying to win their first Westminster seat in Norwich South but hope to make a big impact in the by-election.

National issues

Given the attention this by-election will receive, the main issues will be national ones - in particular the economy and how best to get through the recession.

Labour are already talking a lot about "Tory tax cuts" and showing how they would affect Norwich.

The Conservatives have accused them of dirty tricks and are calling on the party to "come clean" about where Labour will have to make savings sooner or later.

The date of the by-election - 23 July - is the day that parliament and politics break for the summer.

So whoever gets a bad result can go away on holiday and forget all about it.

Declared Candidates:

• LABOUR - Chris Ostrowski

• CONSERVATIVE - Chloe Smith


• GREEN PARTY - Rupert Read

• UKIP - Glen Tingle

• BNP - Robert West

• INDEPENDENT - Bill Holden


• LIBERTARIAN PARTY - Thomas Burridge


• NOTA - Anne Fryatt

• INDEPENDENT - Peter Baggs

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