Corby by-election date set by parliament

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Media captionSpeaker of the House of Commons John Bercow confirming the date of the Corby by-election

At last! The government has finally moved the writ for the Corby by-election. Polling day is November 15.

This will be the most important election of this parliament so far. It is the first time the government has had to defend one of its seats, so both Conservatives and Labour have a lot to prove.

That's why there's been an unofficial campaign ever since Louise Mensch announced her resignation. Now it's an end to the phoney war, let battle commence.

The two parties, particularly Labour who are hopeful of a win here, have already committed large scale resources to the campaign.

It is generally accepted that the economy will be the main issue in this election. Will voters back the coaltion's austerity programme, or favour Labour's approach?

Economy is key

Polling by the Conservatives' Lord Michael Ashcroft suggests the Tories are a long way behind at the start of the campaign with 56% of voters feeling pessimistic about the economy but it also suggests that more people (48%) would prefer to see the coalition managing the economy than Labour (35%).

"The economy here is doing well," says Christine Emmett, a business woman standing for the Conservatives.

"The Rushden Lakes new development has just been approved and that will bring 2500 jobs to this area.

"We've had a million new jobs in this country since the last election - in Corby 85 new business have set up in the last quarter - there's been a surge in manufacturing.

"We have to keep interest rates low and we have to encourage investment, which we're doing, and ensure the city keeps faith with us."

Unemployment levels

Unemployment fell in Corby last month, although it is still higher than this time last year. Labour's candidate Andy Sawford, a political activist who works for a local government think tank, says much more needs to be done.

"Youth unemployment has been rising faster here than anywhere else in the country. There are four people chasing every one vacancy in this constituency. We need an urgent plan for jobs and growth to help get young people back to work.

"We need to spend on infrastructure, we need to get house building going again in this country.

"Labour have talked about building another 100,000 new affordable houses that will really get people back to work here - we need more apprenticeships for young people here too."

The Liberal Democrats have never done well in Corby but their candidate Jill Hope, a former Northampton councillor and local business woman, hopes to buck the trend.

"People are worried about the cuts but they do seem to understand that they're necessary and they would have happened what ever government was in place."

She also says many voters complain to her that Louise Mensch, when she was MP, was not very visible in the constituency.

"They just want a local MP who knows the issues, will be there for them and will be the sort of local representative who will fight for them."

The UK Independence Party is expecting to do well in this by-election. It believes a lot of voters are fed up with all three main parties.

Half the seat

"People approached UKIP to stand in this election," says their candidate, Margot Parker, another local business woman. "Support is coming from Labour, from the Conservatives and certainly from the Liberal Democrats.

"We know there have to be cuts but we say there's enough money to bring back from Europe and £12bn in foreign aid which most people object to.

"There's money to be had to keep services running for vulnerable people and the decent tax payers of this country."

The Greens, the English Democrats and a number of single-issue candidates are also standing in this election, all hoping to make their mark.

It's worth remembering that the constituency is Corby and East Northamptonshire. Almost half of the seat is made up of rolling Northamptonshire countryside and picturesque towns and villages like Oundle, Thrapston, Raunds and Irthlingborough.

These villages are not natural Labour territory, which is why this campaign could be closer than some people think.