03 MAR 2011
Selkirk Weekend Advertiser
Voters have gone to the polls in Barnsley Central in a by-election in which all eyes are on who comes fourth.
Fighting to retain one of Labour's safest seats with the party riding high in the polls, it would take a political earthquake of monumental proportions to stop Dan Jarvis from claiming victory on Thursday.
Any upset is likely to come lower down the running order, with recent polls suggesting that Liberal Democrats could slip from the second place they secured in last year's general election to third - or even fourth, behind Conservatives and UKIP.
A collapse on that scale - which could even see candidate Dominic Carman lose his deposit - would be an embarrassment for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose U-turns on university tuition fees and spending cuts have been widely blamed for the slide in Lib Dem support. Mr Clegg's party failed to seize the much more winnable Oldham and Saddleworth East seat in their last by-election test in January.
Thursday's by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Labour MP Eric Illsley, who was jailed for 12 months in February for expenses fraud.
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