Following the the lead of Jonathan Isaby, Scrapbook has been looking back through electoral archives. In moving the by-election for 13 January, the Liberal Democrats have made the Oldham East and Saddleworth contest the the earliest by-election in the last 55 years and the fifth earliest since the end of World War I.

The six earliest elections since 1918 are:

1: 4 Jan 1922, Ludlow; Tory Ivor Windsor-Clive succeeds the late Beville Stanier
2: 7 Jan 1944, Skipton; Hugh Lawson of the short-lived Common Wealth Party succeeds Conservative George Rickards
3: 9 Jan 1928, Northampton; Labour’s Cecil L’Estrange Malone succeeds Tory Arthur Holland
4: 12 Jan, 1921, Dover; Thomas Polson takes over from the elevated Viscount Duncannon
=5: 13 Jan 1955, South Norfolk; a disgraced Peter Baker replaced by John Hill
=5: 13 Jan 2010, Oldham East and Saddleworth

Referring to the prospect of local campaigning by the Liberal Democrat’s chief whip, who moved the election writ in the House of Commons, a party activist working on the fringes of Saddleworth Moor told Scrapbook:

The letterboxes here are frozen shut. I hope Alistair Carmichael’s fingers drop off.

But campaigners won’t be the only ones annoyed by the timing of this election.

Voters may not reward the Liberal Democrats for an election campaign straddling Christmas and the New Year.

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