UKIP's Roger Helmer MEP, our candidate for the Newark by-election writes:
"On Wednesday, I went for the first time (as a declared by-election candidate) to Newark, and walked around the market square with twenty or so UKIP activists, carrying placards and rosettes (and my thanks to all of them for coming). We were surrounded by reporters and cameramen. And I was simply astonished by the reaction of stallholders and the public in the square. They shouted. They cheered. They roared approval. It was (as a colleague said) “seismic beyond words”.
"A Guardian journalist who was covering the event affirmed in astonishment “I’ve covered a lot of by-elections, and I’ve simply never seen a reaction like that!” I’ve been in politics (and representing Newark in the European parliament) for fifteen years, and I’ve never seen anything like it, either.
"As we posed for photographs with placards and activists, we found that a couple of stallholders (God bless them) had made their own placard in felt-tipped pen on the bottom of a cardboard fruit tray: “Newark for UKIP!!”
"Just one week before I was in Newark Market Square doing media interviews following the resignation of local Tory MP Patrick Mercer, and I lost count of the local people who wanted to talk to us and express their support for UKIP. It’s extraordinary. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure it’s real.
"Things are going well, better than we could ever have expected. But of course we can’t afford complacency. We are very much aware of the fact that we still have a huge amount of work ahead of us, and indeed we are working harder than ever to achieve a great result.
"We are listening to people thoroughly disillusioned with the Old Parties, people who are now extremely happy to talk to us. We’re doing a dozen or more public meetings up and down the region, leafleting and talking to people as much as we possibly can. We’re taking the Battle Bus to town after town, and getting featured in the local press.
"The polls suggest that we are on target to achieve the highest share of the vote in the euro-election on May 22nd, which will be a wake-up call to the political establishment, and a recent report points out that there is a much higher percentage than in 2009 of UKIP voters saying that they will stick with UKIP not only for the European elections but also for the General Election. That puts us in contention for a bridgehead in Westminster in 2015. And I hope to get there first on June 5th. Honestly, I can’t wait for Election Day. This is a great opportunity for UKIP, but I believe it’s also a great opportunity for the people of Newark to send a resounding message to the legacy parties: it’s time for change. For freedom. For self-determination. For democracy. It’s time for Newark – and Britain – to say: We don’t want to outsource our governance to Brussels any longer. It’s time to govern ourselves."