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. 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.

    The last thing UKIP want to sell themselves as is a party in which there is no place for a centre left voter who thinks that the country needs a radical kick up the proverbials. History shows us that such broad coalitions of viewpoints can’t be sustained indefinitely (Labour, the Tories and the various incarnations of Liberal parties having all suffered from defections and periods of unelectability largely as a result of ideological infighting), but UKIP’s aim at this stage in their growth has to be to establish and cement their place as a party that can win parliamentary seats (plural). If once they’ve done that they find that some of their MPs have views irreconcilable with others, so be it – to lose MPs you have to have MPs in the first place.

  2. I’m not entirely sure why UKIP supports this defections.
    YES: It gives good publicity and embaresses the Tories, but why as UKIP would you want a failed Tory as your candidate for MP? The point of UKIP for many people is that they are different to the coalition of Labour, Libdem and Conservatives.

  3. HH

    Sorry, 49.2%. Typo.

    I wonder if you know the place? Kent isn’t monolithic (and nor is any other county). Medway is quite like Gravesham and Dartford, but very different to Swale and Thanet, which are different again to Canterbury. Dover, Folkestone, and Ashford are sui generis. Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, and Maidstone are different worlds entirely (though quite similar to each other).

    Generalities may be relevant nationally, but not on a constituency level.

    And is it really neccessary to use terms like “horseshit” and “mug”. With decent arguments, backed by facts and knowledge rather than wishful thinking and presumption, you might find it less necessary to be offensive.

  4. I have family in the Medway and can tell people here for sure that the area has a well-suited demographic for UKIP. Anywhere on the Thames Estuary is full of a combination of WWC and lower-middle class voters.

    Labour have no chance of winning the by-election. If anything, Labour will be down on their 2010 vote share here.

  5. 111

    Fancy a fifty quid even money bet?

  6. I don’t gamble because of my personal conscience, but if I was a gambling I am sure that I would place £50 on UKIP winning the by election here and Labour falling back on their 2010 performance.

    The general election is a different kettle of fish, though UKIP will probably be slight favourites here next year.

    As I can’t place a bet, I will stick my neck out with a prediction for the by-election instead:

    UKIP: 40%
    CON: 28%
    LAB: 25%
    OTH: 4%
    LD: 3%

  7. As I mentioned, I think this will be a narrow Tory bit it will all depend on who can entice the C1 vote. That is the key to winning this seat as well as other suburban marginals across the South and Midlands.

  8. Personally I think Labour may be hard pressed to reach 20% in the by-election.

  9. “Ukip are attempted to recruit Conservative MPs from under the noses of the Whips over glasses of beer on the House of Commons terrace.
    A number of Tory MPs have been approached to defect to Nigel Farage’s party by a senior Ukip official working in the office of a member of the Lords.
    Matthew Richardson, a barrister and Ukip’s legal officer, has approached a series of Tory backbenchers as they enjoy drinks in the autumn evening sunshine by the river Thames.
    While Ukip does not have any MPs, Mr Richardson is able to access the corridors and cafes of the Palace of Westminster because he is a member of staff of Lord Willoughby, the Ukip peer.”

  10. So Michael Gove will be roughing him up, then? That’s a fight I’d pay to see.

  11. I’ll take that bet for you MIserable old git.

  12. Will Cameron be able to create a diversion?

  13. okay I dun goofed this first time round, it’s not like I didn’t try, I really did give it 111%!

    prediction for 2015-

    Con- 32%
    Lab- 29%
    UKIP- 27%
    Lib- 6%
    Green- 4%
    ED- 2%

  14. Ladbrokes odds:

    2/5 UKIP
    3/1 Cons
    8/1 Labour

  15. UKIP will win this seat in the by election and retain it at the GE IMO

  16. Is Reckless popular? The only thing I know of him is that he turned up drunk to vote for the budget. Interesting how much more bitter the tories seem to be about this defection than Carswell.

  17. No idea if Reckless is especially popular locally, but he hasn’t been MP for that long and he did fail twice before. I doubt that he has the personal vote that Carswell has in Clacton.

    There is a strong Conservative Association in Medway though, I believe, as there often is in these kind of traditionally marginal areas, so I wouldn’t personally rule out a Tory hold in the by election here.

  18. He managed to take Bob Marshall-Andrews’ majority to little more than 200 in 2005, but not sure if that was down to local popularity or the national picture where Labour lost votes that year and only held onto various southern seats by the skin of their teeth. That was the case in most of their Kent seats. In other counties, constituencies like Harlow and Crawley surely went into recount territory.

  19. Interesting how much more bitter the tories seem to be about this defection than Carswell.

    Politicians wine-ing about something they don’t like. Who’d have thought it?

  20. Miserable Old Git

    “And is it really neccessary to use terms like “horseshit” and “mug”. With decent arguments, backed by facts and knowledge rather than wishful thinking and presumption, you might find it less necessary to be offensive.”

    I called you a “mug” in the betting sense of the word, not to be offensive. You said you would bet on Labour winning the by-election at 5/2…..Ladbrokes have today priced a Labour victory at 8/1. So I’m afraid you would indeed be a complete mug to bet on Labour winning here, especially given their unhappy history in relatively similar by elections recently (Eastleigh, Newark).

    I don’t doubt your local knowledge but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be completely wrong.

  21. Could something like this happen at the by-election (early days yet of course)-
    Reckless (UKIP)- 35%
    Conservative- 31%
    Khan (Labour)- 25%
    Green- 4%
    Liberal Democrat- 3%
    Official Monster Raving Loony- 0.5%
    Assorted Independents and Others- 1.5%

    Such a result would give the Tories a real chance of regaining it, or technically holding the seat in May.

  22. if there’s a big ‘keep UKIP out,’ campaign the tories might win.

    That’d be frick fracking brilliant.

  23. There’s a lot of talk about this seat being radically different from clacton, but the numbers in 2010 here, we’re not that dissimlar:

    C 53.0
    Lab 25.0
    Lib Dem 12.9
    BNP 4.6

    Rochester & Strood
    C 49.2
    Lab 28.5
    Lib Dem 16.3
    English Democrats 4.5

    It’s not that different…yes a few more lib dems, they may vote tory in the by-election to keep ukip out, but like in Clacton I expect Reckless will get many labour votes…

    Reckless, despite his name, is a calculating sort. We also know the UKIP conducted many polls in constituencies to tempt people over…they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think they had a very good chance of winning. It won’t be as big as Clacton, but it will be comfortable, as reflected by all the bookies’ initial pricing.

  24. I agree with that James, Reckless will win the by election. The real question will be if he can keep at the GE! I’m not too sure about that and we’ll need to see some constituency polls first. He will need IMO at least a 10% margin of victory in the by election to then subsequently retain it at the GE. Personally I think he’ll pull off both

  25. The history of the two seats is entirely different, even if by chance the party percentages in 2010 were similar. Rochester has long been a Con-Lab marginal, unlike Clacton.

    I don’t think this seat will be a walkover for Reckless. The ‘lies’ charge seems a potent one and surely both the Tories and Labour will throw everything at this one – or if Labour don’t then they are not fit to be putting themselves forward as a party ready for Government in a few months time. They had an MP in this seat just over 4 years ago, for goodness sake.

    Today’s crass circus, inevitably and drearily involving a pub, several pints of beer and Farage’s grinning face is wearing extremely thin and if I was an elector in Rochester I would already feel fed up and manipulated, whatever my political orientation.

  26. I fancy you may be projecting just a little, Dr.

    I suspect Labour will make minimal effort here.

  27. Sorry, in my previous post I meant to say that the Tories will win narrowly but all will depend on which party can entice the C1 vote. If UKIP can win over the swing voters who loved Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and to a certain extent Cameron in 2010, then they’ll walk this by-election.

  28. labour would be mad to throw any resources at this…they have a shortage of funds and there’s much lower hanging fruit than this. The seat is not the Medway seat which they won in 2005 by a whisker, it’s a much more tory seat than that one ever was.

    I think Reckless will hold the seat, but only just.

  29. Dover and Chatham & Aylesford are possibly the only Kent seats where Labour might have some semblance of campaigning. Even so, I predict both seats to be Tory holds and the bulk of Labour’s resources in the SE should be in the three Brighton & Hove seats and Hastings & Rye.

  30. demographics and society change…kent is much more tory than it was in the 70s., 80s and even 90s…Dartford was a labour stronghold after the war and is now a tory safe seat! labour should be focusing on the midlands, northwest, london and any seat where they are 2nd to the lib dems…they can win a small majority with this focus…this is how elections are fought in the states. Obama’s campaign in 2012 didn’t spend any resources in Indiana, even though he had scraped home in this state in 2008…

  31. To win a majority of even 1, Labour are probably going to have to win at least 10 Tory seats in the south.

  32. I don’t think that’s true…though it’s tight.

  33. I know people hate the numbers and arithmetic…but let’s test ceremony’s proposition.

    To win a majority of even 1, Labour are probably going to have to win at least 10 Tory seats in the south.

    Labour need 68 seats to win a majority of 2…

    I think they could win 13 Lib Dem seats and a further 4 seats in London from the tories….stress “could”.

    That leaves them needing to win 51 seats off the tories. I don’t think they need to win “10 Tory seats in the south” to do this. Although it is challenging

  34. Let me clarify that by the south im talking about the East, South East and South West regions.

    If you look at this list you can see that Thurrock, Waveney, Stroud, Plymouth S&D, Bedford, Brighton Kemptown, Hove, Hastings & Rye, Ipswich, Gloucester are all in the top 40, they may be able to win a majority without one or two of these but they should certainly be major targets.

  35. I’m loving the certainty on this board that Labour haven’t a prayer. I am not, repeat NOT, a Labour supporter, and haven’t voted Labour for decades, but you’re being very blinkered here.

    I actually know the constituency on the ground; my knowledge is not based on a Wiki entry. And I know a Con/Lab seat when I’ve lived in one.

  36. “If you look at this list you can see that Thurrock, Waveney, Stroud, Plymouth S&D, Bedford, Brighton Kemptown, Hove, Hastings & Rye, Ipswich, Gloucester are all in the top 40, they may be able to win a majority without one or two of these but they should certainly be major targets.”

    Of those, I reckon Gloucester will be the only one they’ll struggle to take, and I see a Tory hold. They have their areas of strength in the seat, but haven’t done spectacularly in local elections since the general election. Similar with Worcester up in the Midlands. The rest of those should be Labour gains IMO. Thurrock, Waveney and Plymouth S&D are all going to be very prone to UKIP surges though.

  37. No doubt Mark Reckles portrays his seeking reelection as a principled decision giving the electorate in ‘Rochester and Strood’ the democratic opportunity to affirm him or not as a continuing MP for the constituency following his defection to UKIP. However, given there will be a General Election on 7 May 2015, how much of the electorate in ‘Rochester and Strood’ is going to be ill-disposed and antagonistic to what may be perceived as a frivolous gesture on the part of an MP who forces a byelection by resigning and standing again for a term of only 6 months?

    Would such antagonism just translate into not bothering to vote (byelections typically have much lower turnouts than general elections) rather than actively voting for another candidate?

  38. Neil – I think they’ll campaign fairly hard in Gravesham where they outpolled the Tories (and UKIP) in last year’s CC elections.

  39. @Miserable Old Git and Dr John, you certainly have a point. Labour’s only strong area in Clacton is Jaywick (Carswell’s old seat of Harwich was more marginal, with several strong Labour areas in the town itself; I think he always had more attachment with Clacton).

    Rochester and Strood is a different kettle of fish. Sure, Labour were hammered here in 2010, but so they were across Kent. I am another who knows this seat fairly well, as I have friends living in Frindsbury. If your only knowledge of Rochester is the tourist-orientated High Street, you are getting a very limited view. Behind the High Street is a different situation, with tightly packed working class terraced streets. Rochester East (formerly Troy Town) is still a solid Labour ward. Before boundary changes the Strood side of the river had a number of strong Labour wards – Frindsbury, Earl and Temple Farm, the latter two of which have a high proportion of council housing and Labour still has councillors in Strood. Sure, I suspect Reckless will hold on in the by-election (though I’ve no idea how popular he is locally – my relatives are old-fashioned Conservatives, though I’ve not seen them recently and we don’t talk politics), but I would certainly not rule out a Labour win next year, with the right wing vote completely split.

  40. Jaywick isn’t a very big place and it’s not even Labour’s strongest area in the Clacton constituency.

  41. Given now the Tories have all but lost Clacton, and have absolutely no chance in Heywood and Middleton, I think they’ll pull out all the stops now to try and cling on to this seat. There will probably be a lot of activists brought in here to do the groundwork I suspect and to counter the UKIP threat posed by Reckless’ defection.

    If they do hold it, I would be amazed however, given the real mess they seem to be in at the moment. Reckless could win here by as little as 2% and possibly even by as much as 10%, so while it won’t be the very comfortable triumph that Carswell will secure in Clacton, there is still a possibility that Mark Reckless if he does win this by-election could still defy the odds next May and narrowly hold on in UKIP colours, though for that in itself to happen I think they’d probably be looking at about 5 seats at the very least next May.

  42. The thing I’m struggling with in this seat is that I presume Labour will probably be more active here in the by-election (where activists who are willing to go down do not have other places to campaign) than the GE (where there is lower hanging fruit). That suggests to me that Labour would be more likely to hurt UKIP now than next year, which seems counter-intuitive given that parties without a record of forming majorities tend to get squeezed come the GE.

    And I’m posting this here rather than the by-election thread because I think it’s a factor irrespective of the by-election result, provided that one way or the other that result is marginal.

  43. i think it highly unlikely that labour will put forward more than a token effort in this “grudge match” between the tories and ukip…cchq have let it be known that they will fight the seat with everything they’ve got. UKIP will be riding high after their almost inevitable and crushing victory in clacton…[betfair currently have ukip on 1.02 to win there, or 1/50; this must be a by-election record in terms of the shortness of the odds]…rochester will be characterized as a 2 horse race. I suspect a large part of the labour vote will vote ukip in the by-election, though they may revert in the general.

    this is classic civil war stuff on the right.

  44. Are you sure you’re not talking about Clacton Peter?

    On both the exchange and the sportsbook the odds are more even-handed than that (though still comfortably in favour of UKIP).

  45. [I can’t read!]

  46. I have just posted on the by-election thread for this seat.

  47. sorry was talking about clacton..

  48. my point was that after the crushing victory in clacton, reckless and ukip would have momentum…you haven’t read my post carefully or it wasn’t clearly written.

  49. Peter don’t you think that if the tories pick a more centrist candidate, labour voters may vote for the tories in this by election as an anti-ukip vote or are the labour voters in Rochester and Strood not lefty socialist progressives but more of the working class and left behind voters who have a tendancy to be attracted by UKIP’s message?

  50. I think labour voters in kent, admittedly a huge generalization, won’t go for the metropolitan islington stuff at all…

    the first poll here should be interesting. I think people are underestimating reckless. He was the candidate in the area, albeit a slightly different seat of Medway, in 2001, 2005 and then for the current seat in 2010. He is also a calculating academic type who will have weighed up the odds and gone on data. He probably has polling to suggest he will hold the seat. He will the know the constituency very well indeed….having been a candiate or MP for nearly 15 years.

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