SELF-styled 'white knight' candidate Simon Copley is leading both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the by-election odds
The Rev Copley (52), who is standing as a Martin Bell-style independent candidate, is quoted at 25-1 with the Conservatives at 33-1and the Lib-Dems 50-1.
Sarah Champion, for Labour, is 7/50 and Respect’s Yvonne Ridley’s odds were cut from 33-1 to 6-1 by William Hill.
Hill’s maximum stake is £10,000, but bets on Respect have been pegged at just £2, the party said.
Mr Copley, whose father was a founder of the Independent Labour Party and who uses the name “white knight” in his email address, spent 11 years as a minister in South wales but moved to Rotherham, where he has strong family connections, three years ago.
He said: “We need integrity to restore faith in the political system. We need independent-minded people, who will not be swayed by parties, media or big business, to reconnect with ordinary people.
“A red, blue and yellow elite are out of touch. The demise of the Rotherham MP shows a complacent Labour Party that has lost its way.
“Liberal Democrats have sat back and allowed Conservative policies to blight the lives of hard-working people and undermine public services.
“I offer a moderate alternative that will bring people together not drive them apart.”
Mr Copley is a full time charity fund-raiser, a leader at Herringthorpe United Reformed Church and active in his local community in Firbeck.
He went on: “I will do my best to fight corruption, speak out for justice on tax, call for investment in health, education and young people, oppose racism and division and reconnect politics with the issues people care about.
“I did not go to Eton, I am not a millionaire, have never fiddled my expenses nor appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.”