ONE of the most hotly–contested Thurrock MP battles of all time heated up a few more degrees this week.

One minute, the Tories were beeping their way around town  in their blue battle bus containing candidate Jackie Doyle-Price and the party’s chairman Grant Shapps.

The next minute, comedian Eddie Izzard had arrived in Grays (in skirt and high heels I might add) to back Labour candidate Polly Billington’s efforts to become the borough’s next MP. And after that, who else came to town? None other than Ukip’s main man Nigel Farage.

He visited South Ockendon, fronted a huge Ukip love-in at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, along with his party’s local hopeful Tim Aker, and then launched his party's manifesto in Aveley.

More than 1,000 people turned out at the tavern to listen to Nige who earlier told the Gazette how he was ‘optimistic’ his party may break years of Labour and Tory dominance.

All very entertaining stuff, and let’s not forget the other parties who have now thrown their hats in the ring , including the ‘Cannabis is safer than Alcohol’ group...

This week it really did feel like the political circus had rolled into town, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

So buckle up it’s going to be a lively, hectic and rather colourful few weeks up until voting day, May 7.

And amid all the fanfare, please don’t forget there’s a local election on the same day. And there’s plenty at stake there too.