By Jonathan Isaby
At yesterday's PMQs, Labour MP Chris Ruane broadcast rumours that the Lib Dems intended moving the writ for the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election today.
This they are now definitely expected to do, which will mean a contest to elect a new MP for the seat taking place on Thursday January 13th.
By convention, the party which held the seat previously (in this case Labour) moves the writ, but senior government sources indicated yesterday that this is not a conventional by-election, since an election has not been declared void in this manner for 99 years.
Today's Independent suggests that the Lib Dems want the swift poll because "over 1,200 students studying at the Huddersfield University campus in Oldham will still be on holiday when by-election takes place".
It is certainly early in the year by historical standards.
By my reckoning it will be the first January by-election since 1986, when there were contests in 15 Northern Irish seats on the same day after the mass resignation of unionist MPs over the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
It will be the first January by-election in mainland Britain in since that in Hull North on January 27th 1966, which propelled Kevin MacNamara into the Commons.
And the last time a by-election was this early in the year was when the South Norfolk by-election of 1955 was also held on January 13th. The last recorded contest earlier than this in the year that I can find a reference to was the Skipton by-election of 1944, which took place on January 7th.
In the Commons yesterday Ruane talked about the writ being moved with "unseemly haste". Labour know more than a little about that: I will never forget Labour's offensive breach of convention in 2008 when they moved the writ for the Crewe and Nantwich by-election before Gwyneth Dunwoody's funeral had even taken place.
Meanwhile, David Cameron confirmed to me last night that he will personally be going to Oldham to campaign for Kashif Ali, the Conservative candidate.