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  1. ITV Report

Ukip pick former Labour supporter to contest Wythenshawe and Sale East

John Bickley will contest the seat previously held by Labour MP Paul Goggins Photo: UKIP

He grew up on a Wythenshawe council estate and is the son of a Labour Trade Unionist, in selecting John Bickley the UK Independence Party hopes to show the seriousness in which they're taking next month's by-election in the North West.

Labour have held Wythenshawe and Sale East since 1997 with an ever-incresasing majority under the popular Paul Goggins, who died suddently earlier this month at the age of 60.

It has triggered a contest in a seat that looks set to be a two-horse race between Labour and Ukip, though it must be said, the former remain clear favourites.

There are though suggestions from some Conservative Party members, most notably Toby Young, that the Tories make a deal with Nigel Farage in order to prevent the two parties splitting the vote, allowing Labour a comfortable victory.

Labour will announce their candidate on Friday ahead of the election of February 13th. Today's selection of John Bickley by Ukip represents a major push to win their first parliamentary seat in a region it believes Labour has taken for granted.

They believe Mr Bickley will attract disillusioned northern, Labour voters. The son of a Labour trade unionist, he grew up on the Wythenshawe Council Estate and attended local primary and comprehensive schools, and is described by a Ukip spokesperson as a man with "strong local knowledge from a poor background that has done so well in life."

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "He’s a local boy who really cares about the community he is from and has incredible experience working in international business which sets him in very good stead to be a brilliant parliamentarian.”

There is no doubt Labour see this as a genuine challenge. The announcement of snap election on February 13th suggests so, as do reports the party will test anti-Ukip leaflets ahead of May's European Election.

It's confirmation that it isn't just David Cameron that ought to be concerned about the rising popularity of the anti-EU party. Even in traditionally safe Labour seats like Wythenshawe and Sale East, Ed Miliband knows working class voters are having their heads turned too.