9:00am Friday 23rd April 2010
By Mark Stead
Updated: THE General Election in a North Yorkshire constituency has been postponed for three weeks, following the shock death of one of the candidates.
John Boakes, who was standing for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the Thirsk and Malton seat, died this week, after the close of nominations for the May 6 poll.
The tragedy means the election for the constituency, which has more than 60,000 voters, has been rescheduled for May 27.
It is only the seventh time in history, and only the second time since 1951, that a General Election has been delayed by a candidate’s death.
A UKIP spokeswoman said: “This is a dreadful tragedy and has come as a complete shock.
“Everybody at UKIP is very saddened to hear this news. John was a very well-liked and hard-working member of the party and we had high hopes he would do well in the General Election.
“We offer our sympathies to his family at this time.”
Mr Boakes, from Kirby Knowle, near Thirsk, was contesting the seat with Anne McIntosh (Conservative), Jonathan Roberts (Labour), Howard Keal (Liberal Democrat) and John Clark (Liberal).
He moved to North Yorkshire 20 years ago, after working in his family’s carpet business in Kent, before moving onto managerial positions in Northallerton and Bedale.
After suffering a heart attack, he began working for Tesco and became a line manager in the supermarket chain’s fish department, as well as a staff trainer.
He also wrote six books on country crafts and various newspaper and magazine articles, as well as working as a TV extra and studying for a master’s degree in history. UKIP will be able to nominate a new candidate, and all other candidates’ nominations will remain valid unless they withdraw, with no new nominations being allowed.
Mr Roberts said: “It was with great sadness I heard of the death of John Boakes.
“I know of him as a man of real conviction and passion who was highly thought of and will be greatly missed.
“I have cancelled forthcoming election events and am suspending my campaign as a mark of respect for a man who shared my passion for our community.”
Ms McIntosh said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened by John’s death and I send his family my deepest sympathy.”
Mr Keal also said he was “deeply shocked” by the news. Godfrey Bloom, the UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “He was a lovely man, a real gentleman who was well respected and will be much missed by many people.”
Nick Blitz, election agent for the Liberal Party in Thirsk and Malton, said: “We add our condolences to the family of John Boakes.”
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