The Unhappy Birthday Present
Clacton by-election candidates from the Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party, Labour, Conservatives and the Green Party (picture courtesy of BBC News website)
It’s been a blustery and sunny day in Clacton-on-Sea.
The small town, on the east coast of the UK, peers out from its promenade across a dirty grey sea towards dozens of wind turbines just off the coast, lined up as if ready to invade. And then it’s a straight, 150-mile (250-km) line southeast across the English Channel and the fields of Flanders – to Brussels.
This Thursday (9 October) a small and relatively deprived district of coastal Essex, with 69,000 people eligible to vote, is holding a parliamentary by-election. Advance copies of the local paper – the Gazette – are already predicting an historic day, one on which “British politics [will be changed] forever”.