Rochester & Strood

2015 Result:
Conservative: 23142 (44.1%)
Labour: 10396 (19.8%)
Lib Dem: 1251 (2.4%)
Green: 1516 (2.9%)
UKIP: 16009 (30.5%)
TUSC: 202 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 7133 (13.6%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Part of the Medway council area.

Main population centres: Rochester, Strood, Grain, Hoo St Werburgh, Halling.

Profile: A largely industrial seat in the conurbation of Medway in Kent. Rochester and Strood is geographically the largest of the Medway seats, taking in not just Rochester and Strood themselves but also the expanse of the Hoo peninsula between the estuaries of the Thames and Medway. The peninsula and the Isle of Grain are largely marshland, an important site for wild birds, and are often cited as possible locations for a Thames Estuary airport. The south of the peninsula is industrial, and includes a major container port, a gas import plant and two power stations. The urban part of the seat is the western part of Medway, with Strood to the west of the river and Rochester to the east. Rochester is a historic city of strategic importance on the Medway (hence the presence of Rochester Castle and various Napoleonic Forts built to protect Chatham dockyard), it is also the second oldest Bishopric in England. As is the case across North Kent there is significant redevelopment in progress, with thousands of new houses being planned along the river medway waterfront. The village of Borstal in the West of Rochester was the site of the original borstal and still hosts HMP Rochester. The constituency also stretches south to take in Cuxton and Halling, a former chalk mining village that is now largely a commuter area.


Current MP
KELLY TOLHURST (Conservative) Former businesswoman and marine surveyor. Medway councillor since 2011. Contested Rochester and Strood by-election 2014. First elected as MP for Rochester & Strood in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 23604 (49%)
Lab: 13651 (28%)
LDem: 7800 (16%)
GRN: 734 (2%)
Oth: 2182 (5%)
MAJ: 9953 (21%)
Con: 17120 (42%)
Lab: 17333 (42%)
LDem: 5152 (13%)
UKIP: 1488 (4%)
MAJ: 213 (1%)
Con: 15134 (39%)
Lab: 18914 (49%)
LDem: 3604 (9%)
UKIP: 958 (2%)
MAJ: 3780 (10%)
Con: 16504 (37%)
Lab: 21858 (49%)
LDem: 4555 (10%)
Oth: 405 (1%)
MAJ: 5354 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Medway

2015 Candidates
KELLY TOLHURST (Conservative) Businesswoman and marine surveyor. Medway councillor since 2011. Contested Rochester and Strood by-election 2014.
NAUSHABAH KHAN (Labour) Educated at Fort Pitt Grammar and Birmingham University. PR consultant.
PRUE BRAY (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Manchester University. Wokingham councillor since 2000. Contested Wokingham 2005, 2010.
MARK RECKLESS (UKIP) Born 1970. Educated at Oxford University. Barrister and banker. Medway councillor 2007-2011. Contested Medway 2001, 2005. MP for Rochester and Strood 2010 to 2015. Defected to UKIP in 2014 and won the subsequent by-election.
CLIVE GREGORY (Green) Musician and sound engineer. Rochester and Strood by-election 2014.
Comments - 728 Responses on “Rochester & Strood”
1 2 3 15
  1. Labour will select a BME candidate here. The selection is between Naushabah Khan and Cllr Isaac Igwe.

  2. Ms Khan was selected.

  3. Mark Reckless is bookies favourite to be the next Conservative MP to defect to UKIP. Not sure whether there will be any more, but if Reckless were to defect, one would think this seat, like Clacton, would be fairly fertile territory in a by-election.

  4. Most of North Kent, including the Medway towns, is definitely fertile ground for a UKIP surge. As seen by the success in the CC elections last year and the Euros this year where they topped the polls in every Kent authority expect for Tunbridge Wells.

  5. For clarity – Neil and I are two different people.

  6. Mark Reckless has defected to UKIP.

  7. Another UKIP gain here then

  8. Will there be a by-election, is the question!

  9. A very interesting development.

  10. He will indeed be standing down and forcing a by-election.

  11. Very interesting because unlike Carswell and by the man’s own admission, this is not prime UKIP territory. I admire his principle in resigning despite a result that might not go in his favour.

  12. I wanted to be the one to break the news to ukpr. Still this thread is probably in good standing to increase its comments from the 5 before defection…

  13. I suspect he will win, because sufficient Tories will go over to him and the anti-UKIP vote could realistically go Labour or Tory here – likely splitting that vote.

  14. Goodness me- this is going to be a very difficult Autumn for Cameron. I very much hope Mr Reckless wins but we’ll have to see. The last lot of Medway Council elections happened in 2011. UKIP didn’t make much of an impression at all. But of course a lot has changed since then.

  15. Demographically it looks reasonable for UKIP- skilled tradespeople and intermediate workers are very well represented and it’s pretty white given its proximity to London (90.4%). But the population is quite a lot younger that of Clacton with people in the 16-24 and 24-44 age groups over-represented. What do people think?

  16. Not as good as Clacton, certainly, but when Clacton levels of demographic matches produce 44% leads they ought to have relatively little trouble winning this too.

    Medway Council Area (European Elections, 2014):

    UKIP 27,265
    Conservatives 15,043
    Labour 12,448
    Green 3,684
    Lib Dems 2,420

    Haven’t got percentages but you get the idea.

  17. I really don’t think that UKIP will simply storm to victory in this seat. The Labour decline here last time was truly horrible with them losing 14% vote share, but one has to remember that this and its predecessor seats have been key Labour-Tory marginals for years and surely Labour will pull out all the stops in this one. In fact they absolutely have to, if they are to gain any purchase at all on the string of semi-marginals east of London before and at the next GE.

    It could be a three-way type split I guess, but this one will be much more difficult for UKIP to win than Clacton.

  18. 13th November is the earliest this by-election could take place.

  19. The medway council eu election percentages were:
    UKIP- 41.7%
    Conservatives- 23%
    Labour- 19%
    Green- 5.6%
    Lib Dems- 3.7%

    Those results look pretty good for UKIP even though they performed better in clacton, they didn’t perform that much better. This i think will be a fairly safe UKIP gain in a by election, Reckless wouldn’t have switched parties if he wasn’t confident of re-election. He would have been shown private polling done which will have shown him winning this seat in UKIP colours. It will obviously be harder for UKIP to win this seat in the general election, but with Reckless standing, they will probably achieve it IMO

  20. She’d be the youngest MP if elected.

  21. reckless fought the seat and its predecessor 3 times as a candidate. he is well known there…i think he’ll hold the seat.

  22. She’s commonly referred to as a keen kickboxer. I’m semi-hoping that gets displayed during the campaign, just for the spectacle.

  23. I think Reckless will win, but not in the cakewalk fashion likely to be seen in Clacton. Problems for Cameron. Especially if UKIP win here & in Clacton, but Labour holds Heywood & Middleton. I wonder if the fact that it is seen to be Tories switching to UKIP will make it more difficult to gain Labour votes especially in the North.

  24. Labour are certainly playing on that and George Eaton of the NS seems to think so. Polling may tell us whether or not that will work.

  25. Blimey, heard this on the radio at the gym just as was leaving about 20 minutes ago. Said it was a decision he didn’t take lightly. Interestingly, Mark Reckless was one of 6 Tory MPs to vote against the IS motion in Commons yesterday (three of whom are Kent MPs).

    As I mentioned in a post above, a lot of North Kent is pretty fertile ground for UKIP. They can certainly take those English Democrat votes from 2010 (how did they manage that back then, was there a local ground campaign by the party at the time?) as well as votes from the other parties.

    It has been a relatively grim week for Ed Miliband, but this defection is pretty bad news for David Cameron right before his party conference.

  26. the Ed miliband forgetting his speech won’t harm him in the marginals he cares about, though in the westminster village and among political anoraks like ourselves it’s a heinous crime.

    the miliband flop of a speech will be forgotten in a couple of weeks, meanwhile this ukip thing is much more deep-seated a problem for Dave. The Rochester by-election will take place in mid-november presumably and if UKIP win it will be a severe blow to Cameron…i have thought Dave is finished for months now…Reckless’s antics are just confirming this.

  27. Tory – Mark Reckless is also in that age group (although he looks a lot older). He’s popular with young people, as he defied the Whip and voted against Tuition Fees. Mr Nameless – wasn’t Ruth Davidson meant to be a kickboxer too? She looks a bit heavy as with most Scottish politicians.

  28. I have just checked on Google that Mark Reckless has indeed joined UKIP today and that he intends to resign and cause a by-election.

    It will be interesting to see how quickly the Conservatives will call the by-election. They may well not take the tactics of damage limitation they are employing in Clacton.

    Mark Reckless will stand good chances in the by-election.

    Doubtless we will get an opinion poll of this seat soon.

    I feel a bit sorry for the Labour candidate Naushabah Khan. She is clearly an able local candidate and one wishes her well for the future. But if there is a by-election here in which immigration is a major issue she is likely to get steamrollered, However much one may reret it. Incidentally Rochester was once the major manufacturer of steam rollers, Aveling and Porter I believe off the top of my head.

    David Cameron may get steam rollered too.

  29. I seem to recall he was quite late in being adopted before the 2001 election because Central Office (I think Theresa May was Chairman then) did n’t really want him as candidate. Crystal ball gazing…..?

  30. It has been a relatively grim week for Ed Miliband, but this defection is pretty bad news for David Cameron right before his party conference.

    I would assume the whole point of defecting at this exact moment was to make it harder for Cameron not to pander to UKIP at the Conservative Conference (shades of the famous Thatcher quote about her greatest achievement).

    Ironically I think a Labour win here (while unlikely) would be a better result for Cameron than a Tory win. People are not buying “vote UKIP, get Miliband” at the moment, but if a Tory-held seat went Labour 1st, UKIP 2nd and Con 3rd, I think the message would really hit home.

  31. i think it was the election of 2010 where he was readopted for the new seat of rochester & strood rather late in the day…frankie maude was the chairman who tried to keep him out….he was selected as a candidate as early as 1999 for Medway. I have no doubt he will hold the seat, though with not as good a majority as Carswell, who is currently 33/1 ON on the betfair website.

  32. Ah was that it? I had it in mind the controversy was more recent and had to check that he actually did stand in 2001 (three elections mentioned above).

  33. The UKIP defector will probably lose his seat. I have to say this MP’s move to UKIP was a reckless move.

  34. He won’t lose his seat i am sure of that, he wouldn’t have left unless there was polling evidence done to entice him, anyway we will see.

  35. He’ll probably hold it in the by-election and then lose it in the general. Time will tell.

    I must admit when I heard about this I thought “Great – Bob Marshall-Andrews will be able to make a comeback” but it seems not.

    I wish the Labour candidate all the best here.

  36. This area will be extremely strong for UKIP next year. I have posted elsewhere on this site before about UKIP’s chances in the Medway. The only MPs who will defect to UKIP will be ones in seats which UKIP could potentially win next year. The whips office needs to monitor eurosceptic MPs in other seats on my 40 seat target list as they are the only people who would defect over the coming months. There is an MP in Kent and an MP in Cornwall (we know who they are) that I would be monitoring right now if I were Michael Gove. The fact that Reckless has previously strongly denied that he planned to defect shows that no MP can be trusted by Gove.

  37. The first sentence is more likely to be correct here than in Clacton. We will have to wait & see what the by-election result is of course; that will give quite a clue to what will happen in May. This by-election will be well under 6 months within the time of a general election.

  38. “People are not buying “vote UKIP, get Miliband” at the moment, but if a Tory-held seat went Labour 1st, UKIP 2nd and Con 3rd, I think the message would really hit home.”

    If that were the result then the message which should be hitting home is “Vote Tory, get Labour”. That is a message that should be heeded in Thurrock too according to recent polling and even more so in places like Rotherham.
    Although I’m relatively late commenting on this thread, I was amongst the first to hear the news as I heard it from the horses mouth, at Doncaster racecourse appropriately enough. The mood at the conference is difficult to convey but following the introduction of Mark Reckless to the proceedings the atmospehere was euphoric (in fact I think it might be coming up shortly on BBC Parliament)
    I attended last years conference which had seemed reasonably slick until it ended in Godfrey Bloom inspired fiasco but this has been an altogether more professional event.
    The best bit of this defection is that the Westminster parties had blatantly timed the parliamentary vote on military action in Iraq to try and overshadow the UKIP conference. Whatever ones views of the rights and wrongs of military action, this was a horribly cynical move but predictable enough and pretty succesul judging by the news coverage I saw last evening.
    On this morning’s news they were already trailing ‘news’ of policies to be announced at the Tory conference with the still ongoing UKIP conferece being relegated to a footnote.
    I would have loved nothing better than to see Cameron’s face when he heard this news.

  39. Pete- ‘I would have loved nothing better than to see Cameron’s face when he heard this news.’

    Me too 🙂

    What is your assessment of Mr Reckless’ chances, Pete? If I understand correctly, he made reference in his speech to his constituency being more challenging for UKIP than Clacton so he is probably under no illusions about it being potentially being a close fight.

  40. Indeed he did say that and it is true that it isn’t going to be the cake walk that Clacton might appear to be. He did ofcourse do what we might have to start calling ‘invoking Goodwin’s law’ – treating the analysis of Matthew Goodwin as gospel and this analysis apparently suggests that Rochester would not be a good prospect for UKIP. I haven’t read Goodwin’s book and while what I know of his theories has some obvious basis in reality there are some flaws in it too and I certainly wouldn’t want to treat it as gospel. I have expressed the view on various threads that I happen to think this is a very good area for UKIP for the reasons repeated again upthread by 111.
    Mark reckless made a good joke at the expense of Matthew Paris about how Rochester has a castle and cathedral and French bakeries etc and that it would therefore be a place which Paris would love. But of course this is not some kind of Oxford on the Medway as the European election results testify. I wouldn’t be remotely complacent about the by-election but I am certainly optimistic.
    One of the many historic claims to fame of Rochester is that its castle was captured during the peasants revolt – a revolt which started as it happens in Essex

  41. @Pete: “The best bit of this defection is that the Westminster parties had blatantly timed the parliamentary vote on military action in Iraq to try and overshadow the UKIP conference. Whatever ones views of the rights and wrongs of military action, this was a horribly cynical move but predictable enough and pretty succesul judging by the news coverage I saw last evening.”

    I’m sorry this is rubbish! The US military action started during the Labour conference. Cameron rightly staged the vote in between the Labour and Tory conference because that’s when it wouldn’t have disrupted either of the main party conferences. Labour and the Tories are still the largest parties in Parliament! You seem to forget UKIP don’t have any MPs so hardly a problem holding the vote during the UKIP conference. Such paranoia from a UKIP supporter – what a surprise!!!

  42. prediction for 2015-

    con- 38%
    Lab- 31%
    UKIP- 29%
    Lib- 7%
    Green- 4%
    ED- 2%

    I reckon that come 2015 this will be a tory hold, or possibly gain. I see UKIP getting between 25%-35% in the area with 35% being the absoulte limit. I can’t see the tories going below 35%. Labour I see 28%-32% kind of area. The lib dem vote worse than halved, the greens are polling 3 times higher than what they were in ’10 so a bit of natural increase, seen as the liberal voters don’t need to urgently vote for their party they should split to labour and the greens. English democrats of course still exist here but UKIP will probably rob them of their votes.

  43. That comes to 111%!

  44. Have to say I completely agree with BigD. The US can hardly be expected to wait to go to war until after the great Nigel Farage has made his leaders’ speech. Cameron will hardly have given the UKIP conference a moment’s thought.

    Indeed there is plenty of evidence that Cameron still hardly sees UKIP as a threat at all – though Reckless will be one more development to gradually shake him out of his complacency. It was widely reported this week that a journalist asked Cameron who he would rather push off Beachy Head – Nigel Farage or Alex Salmond. Camron replied “Salmond – business before pleasure.”

  45. Robbie I don’t think you’re right in your prediction (even disregarding the arithmetic as Far Easterner says!). If Mark Reckless does indeed win his seat, as I think he probably will, it is highly unlikely that he would then be 3rd in the general election. He might possibly lose to the Tories, but not I think to Labour as well.

  46. He’ll hold the seat in the general election. Illegal immigration through Calais/Dover has been the lead local news item in BBC Kent/Sussex for weeks and weeks and weeks now. The local reaction has been incandescent. It will hand victory to Farage and Reckless on a plate. Several hundred asylum seekers being housed in hotels in Folkestone this week is going to keep the issue on the TV for months, as will today’s truck drivers blockade of Dover.

    As usual, Robbie is talking horseshit.

  47. I used to live in Chatham in the 70s. Bob Bean was the Labour MP for the then constituency of Rochester & Chatham. Whenever I visit, I find the area seems to have changed remarkably little in look and feel since those days (despite the loss of the dockyard).

    Central Rochester & Strood are natural Con/Lab territory, and I don’t see UKIP doing particularly well there. The villages in Strood Rural, Cuxton, and Halling may do almost anything (including UKIP), and southern Rochester along the Maidstone Road to the airfield is pretty safeToryland. The most fertile UKIP area may well be Borstal (which would be most appropriate!).

    Last time round Reckless had 46.2%, and the combined Lab & LibDem vote was 45.6% (32.3% and 13.3% respectively). If Reckless, as I anticipate, takes between 60% and 70% of the Tory vote (leaving 30% to 40% behind with the Tories), then Labour won’t need to take too much of the LibDem vote to come through the middle and win.

    If I were betting, I’d fancy Labour to win the byelection, and a close Tory/Labour marginal next year. This seat is not, repeat NOT, like Thanet; it’s not a poor, deprived, European Assistance area with a large transient population. There’s no market formed yet, but if I can get 5/2 on Labour for the byelection I’ll bite the bookie’s hand off.

  48. Reckless is making a big mistake just like Farage neither will win their seats. This seat isn’t Clacton where I think will won hands down.

    I predict a narrow Tory hold in the forthcoming by-election.

  49. “Last time round Reckless had 46.2%”

    Erm, no he didn’t, he got 49%.

    I might also remind you that UKIP have taken Labour and Lib Dem votes in Kent as well as Tory votes. If you put any money on Labour to win here you are a mug.

1 2 3 15
Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)