Rochester and Strood by-election

Caused by the resignation of Mark Reckless, following his defection from the Conservative party to UKIP on the 27th October 2014 at the UKIP party conference.

Mark Reckless (UKIP) Born 1970. Educated at Oxford University. Former barrister and banker. Medway councillor 2007-2011 for the Conservatives. Contested Medway 2001, 2005 for the Conservatives. Conserative MP for Rochester and Strood 2010-2014, defected to UKIP in 2014 and resigned to fight a by-election.
Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative) Businesswoman and marine surveyor. Medway councillor since 2011
Naushabah Khan (Labour) Educated at Fort Pitt Grammar and Birmingham University. PR consultant.
Clive Gregory (Green) Musician
Geoff Juby (Liberal Democrat) Born 1954. Educated at East Dereham Boys School. Caterer. Former Gillingham councillor and Medway councillor since 1997. Contested Medway in 2001, 2005, Rochester and Strood 2010
Jayda Fransen (Britain First) Contested Scotland in 2014 European elections
Dave Osborn (Patriotic Socialist) Born Huddersfield
Nick Long (People before Profit) Housing officer
Hairy Knorm Davidson (Loony) Woodsman and log supplier. Contested Faversham and Mid Kent 2010
Mike Barker (Independent) Bomb disposal scientist. Awarded the MBE in 1972 for gallantry. Received a suspended prison sentence in 2008 for making threats to kill, imprisoned in 2010 for non-payment of council tax
Christopher Challis (Independent) Born Medway. Educated at Rochester Math School and Cambridge University. Chartered accountant
Stephen Goldsbrough (Independent) Lay preacher
Charlotte Rose (Independent) Sex worker and sexual trainer. Contested Clacton by-election 2014
Comments - 1,059 Responses on “Rochester by-election”
1 2 3 22
  1. When was the last by-election in Rochester, presumably for the old Rochester and Chatham seat? I have a suspicion that it may be a long time ago.

    Given Charles Dickens’ associations with Rochester, perhaps we should re-read “Pickwick Papers” on by-elections although I am certainly not saying that the political behaviour described in that novel would be a good predictor of what might happen in the forthcoming by-election.

  2. The last by-election in Rochester was in 1903 caused by the elevation of Viscount Cranborne to the House of Lords on succeeding to the Marquis of Salisbury. I suspect he may have approved of Mark Reckless’s actions here.

  3. Being a longterm marginal, this seat hasn’t seen by-elections, because its MPs have not had long stints representing it & have therefore rarely been that old when they have been defeated. One, the Tory Peggy Fenner, had 2 stints as the MP between 1970 & her defeat in 1997 in what was then Medway. However, Labour’s Anne Kerr died not very long after her defeat in 1970.

  4. If I may be permitted a somewhat shallow comment, I am astounded to read above that Mark Reckless is only 44. From his picture and TV appearances I’d assumed he was circa 55 or maybe even 60….is he the Tory (now UKIP) equivalent of Liam Byrne? Seriously, being an MP must age the hell out of you.

  5. I too was quite surprised to see that, Hemmelig. I’ve always thought Liam Byrne looks like a cartoon of Neil Kinnock (didn’t say that when I met him).

    I’m not sure about what’s going to happen here although it being slightly closer than Clacton I might try to go down and campaign if I can find time.

    Reckless does not appear to have anywhere near the personal vote of Douglas Carswell (less charismatic but has also served less than half as long) so he won’t carry across so many local members. Do we know if he has taken his canvass data with him?

  6. By slightly closer than Clacton I mean geographically. Although it probably will be a closer result too.

  7. I think Mark Reckless will pull this off though. He will probably win in the 30’s with the Tories fairly close behind, with Labour falling to third place like in Clacton. If it’s close at the by-election, the chances of Tory revenge here come May are very high I think.

  8. why is there a rochester by-election thread and not a clacton one?

  9. And the description at the top of the page is wrong, he defected on 27th SEPTEMBER not October.

  10. does it make a difference?

  11. Viscount Cranbourne in 1903 was succeeding his father who had only recently ceased to be Prime Minister. He was also a relative of Arthur Balfour, the incumbent Prime Minister, who was if I remember rightly the Prime Minister Salisbury’s nephew.

    So I would not have thought Cranbourne’s position as very much an insider would have been at all like that of Reckless. Also, Cranbourne would have been a Protectionist whereas UKIP are in general free traders. In 1903 they could well be said to have had more in common with the Liberals than the Unionists.

    There is a Wikipedia entry about the 1903 by-election from which it appears to have been a lively affair, although the Unionists held the seat. There is no Wikipedia entry about the 1893 by-election. Does anybody have informtion about it? Cranbourne was then a “retread”, having lost Darwen in 1892.

  12. Keeping to a historical theme, will the production of road making machinery be an issue in this seat given that Aveling and Porter steam rollers used to be built here? Also, what about the aviation industry given that Sunderlands and other flying boats were built on the banks of the Medway. If I recollect rightly the site is now covered with modern flats. Rochester airfield has also been built on.

    More generally, this seat is a prime example of how British industry has been squeezed out by financial and commercial wheeling-dealing, and the madcap rce to build more and more houses. It will be interesting to see which parties if any have the guts during the by-election to argue for this process to be reversed in the interests of the prosperity of Rochester and Strood.

  13. A third point. Has Mark Reckless actually been selected as UKIP candidate for the by-election yet? What is the process for choosing UKIP by-election candidates and what is the timetable, bearing in mind the slight faux pas over Clacton, where there was already a UKIP candidate in place?

    Had UKIP selected a candidate for Rochester and Strood before Mark Reckless announced his change of party?

  14. After Carswell defected to UKIP no-one I mean NO-ONE here predicted that Carswell wuld be polling that high, in fact some suggested the tories could win. People here I think are underestimating UKIP and Reckless here. I could be wrong but the odds are fairly conclusive showing UKIP at 2/5 odds. I would predict something like:
    UKIP- 40%
    Conservatives- 30%
    Labour- 26%
    Lib Dems- 2%
    Others- 2%

  15. having two threads does matter because it splits up the discussion.

  16. Frederic, Mark Reckless is the UKIP candidate. The previous UKIP candidate has stood aside to let him stand (unlike the UKIP candidate in clacton)

  17. I reckon the gap will be smaller than 10 points.


    on what effing planet are you on? we had this nonsense with clacton for a few days…of course reckless will be the ukip candidate…he is the sitting MP who has called this election because he wants to give his constituency an opportunity to endorse his defection…how stupid!

    in what mad world will he not be a candidate in the by-election whose principal purpose is a referendum on his defection?

    I agree with Stephen…i expect the anti-politics mood and the copycat “why can’t we have a UKIP MP too” will win it for reckless….people did think that the tories could win clacton until two polls put them wrong…then people said that carswell would win the by-election, but somehow the electors would do the sensible thing and revert to the tories….sorry for the blues, carswell will be the UKIP MP for Clacton for as long as he wants.

  19. No UKIP here in 2010 but over 2000 people voted English Democrat (who almost held there deposit). UKIP should have reasonable prospects here but not a shoe in like Carswell. I feel that the actions of these Tea Party MP’s will only help Labour and assist in the return of a government (albeit minority) that will unlikely to offer a European referendum.

  20. LOL

    A few weeks ago Dalek was insisting that the Tories were going to gain seats from Labour (including Southampton Itchen) and win the election.

    It is amusing to see these chumps change their mind whilst trying to convince us that they never thought anything different….Robin Hood will be the next 🙂

  21. I think the tories will win the election if we start to see back swing really kicking in sometime soon.

    How dramatic do you all think the back swing will be?

  22. I think Reckless will win the by-election, but the GE is much tougher to call. Unlike Clacton, where it looks pretty likely that Carswell will win comfortably in 2015 as well as next Thursday, the result here will probably be a fair bit closer, meaning the Tories could take this back at the General.

  23. Given that polling hasn’t picked up any significant degree of direct Tory to Labour switching, it wouldn’t be swing back.

  24. If Reckless wins the byelection, which is highly likely, he’ll continue to be the incumbent and will be able to point to a record of five years service as an MP for Rochester and Strood, while a new Tory candidate wouldn’t have anywhere near as long to make a huge impression in such a short space of time I don’t think- Reckless’ continued incumbency could well prove crucial here next May.

  25. HH

    I find it very amusing…these guys will be waiting for a blue moon….in january, i expect a mass capitulation when all who have claimed dave will be in number 10 for another 5 years start predicting a labour government and blame ukip for something which has been obvious for years….fisher’s model is beginning to show a labour largest seats scenario…he’ll probably think it’ll be a labour majority by april. …Hodges looked like he chucked in the towel when carswell defected but he’s back on the “Cameron is a political colossus of the age” meme.

  26. According to Roger Alton, the executive editor of The Times, the Tories think they’ll hold this seat in the by-election. He said this on Sky News’ Paper Review.

  27. Wishful thinking

  28. there was talk of them holding Clacton until the first poll…i think reckless will win.

  29. FS – there was a UKIP PPC, a Dr and he stood down and endorsed Mark Reckless at the UKIP Conf.

  30. Incidentally, Michael Crick just said that Hollobone is 50:50 to be next.

  31. I’m not sure Reckless will win here

    He’s very different from Carswell – lacks the charisma, doesn’t have the same type of personal following, and if I’m perfectly honest comes across as a bit of a novice – someone who’s trying a bit too hard to be right wing for the sake of it

    I’m amazed he’s only 44 although bald people always look older. Reckless actually had hair when he first contested this seat in 2001 – after a highly personalised camnpaign agsainst Bob Marshall-Andrews

    If anything, this is a golden chance for Labour to show that they are still relevant in the South East – Rochester & Strood is essential a working class industrial seat on the Thames and surely in their eyes they have a great chance of splitting the right-wing vote and coming through in the middle.

    Like the Tories, they should throw everything they have got in this seat

    Whilst I can understand regret at seeing Carswell jump ship, I think the Tories are well rid of Reckless.

  32. This has always been a socially mixed area. Unlike Dartford, this seat has never had safe Labour characteristics, even when it included Chatham too. It has always had some very safe Conservative wards though generally these have been the villagey areas more than the urban ones. The Tories were able to win Rochester & Chatham in 1959, and after that they have always won in their winning years. Labour failed to win the seat in Feb.1974 even when winning more seats nationally than the Conservatives.

  33. Weren’t Labour supposed to ‘come through the middle’ in Newark as well, and Clacton even (according to some posters) ?

  34. Newark, there was never the remotest chance. Clacton was always extremely unlikely. This is a little likelier but I still don’t think it’s that likely.

  35. Yeah I’d call a Labour win here a “surprise upset” rather than the sheer fantasy that Newark or Clacton wins would have been.

  36. It is an interesting test for Labour nevertheless I think. It is a harder seat for them to write of as entirely hopeless, and thus have an easy excuse for making zero effort and doing poorly. I expect them to make very little effort nonetheless, but what happens to their vote share will be potentially informative.

  37. the political map changes…rural norfolk used to be more favourable to labour in the 50s and 60s, whereas it really isn’t now. I think estuarial Kent is less labour friendly than it has been in the past.

    The reds should not put any resource here at all. It’s not even in labour’s top 125 targets, neither were Newark or Clacton…they are better off letting UKIP and the Tories have their slug fest, while keeping their own powder dry for the 120 odd seats which are more winnable.

  38. ‘The reds should not put any resource here at all. It’s not even in labour’s top 125 targets’

    If that is the case, it’s hard evidemnce how UKIP does harm Labour every bit as much as it harms the Tories

    This seat was Labour from 97 to 2010 – albeit on very slim margins

    Not making an effort in a seat they lost at the last geberal election where the right-wing vote is going to be split, would be unforgivable and almost proof that Labour isn’t fit to govern

    Of course it’s true that Labour doesn’t ‘need’ to win here but it would surely be highly desirable in an part of a country where Labour voters are few and far between

  39. “Reckless actually had hair when he first contested this seat in 2001 – after a highly personalised camnpaign agsainst Bob Marshall-Andrews”

    There was some animosity between Reckless and BMA also in 2005 campaign. IIRC during the winning speech in 2005 BMA congratulated and thanked LD and UKIP candidates while explicitly refusing to do so with Reckless

  40. I think the comparison with rural Norfolk is a bit off the mark – that shift occurred many decades ago. Coastal Kent was pretty good for Labour quite recently. Even with minimal effort a party heading for an election win ought to be able to increase its vote share a bit inn a seat like this.

  41. Coastal Kent was indeed quite good for Labour, in 2005 they held on to all their marginals except Gravesham. There was something of a damburst of Tory votes in 2010 which had been held back so the majorities now look safe but I think it would be a big mistake for Labour not to try hard here if they aspire to government.

  42. Luke Akehurst’s take on the by-election re Labour’s chances:

    I appreciate that Luke is from Kent, but feel he’s too optimistic about Labour’s prospects. The seat is a different beast from the days of Labour winning the old Rochester & Chatham seat and even Bob Marshall-Andrews’ time as Medway MP.

    Although Labour has some representation in a few of the wards that make up R&C, the entire narrative of the by-election is focused on UKIP and the Conservatives. There is also a very real chance of some traditional Labour voters getting behind Mark Reckless.

  43. Labour’s vote share fell in Newark, of course. If it falls in Clacton and in Rochester as well, that cannot be a good sign for them IMO.

    It would suggest to me that whatever national poll leads they have are very flaky, with little genuine enthusiasm for the party embodied in them. The secondary questions on things like Miliband’s leadership and economic competence already point that way.

    On this basis I would suggest the GE result next May is still wide open. The only thing I am certain about is that the Lib Dems will lose a lot of seats.

  44. ‘The seat is a different beast from the days of Labour winning the old Rochester & Chatham seat and even Bob Marshall-Andrews’ time as Medway MP.’

    The boundary changes in 2010 were minimal – and whilst like most of Kent there has been a big swing against Labour since 2005, there’s a big enough working class vote here

    Anything less than 2nd place would be a huge slap in the face for Labour and would suggest to me that Ed miliiband will noit be getting the keys to No.10 Downing street any time soon

  45. The Kent seats Labour need to put most effort into are Chatham & Aylesford, Dover and as Barnaby pointed out in his reply to me above, Gravesham (it’s way down Labour’s list of targets, but they fared well in the CC divisions last year, have a presence in Gravesend and Northfleet and have a very good Parliamentary candidate).

    Upon reading the Akehurst article, I think Labour might as well make an effort on the ground, particularly after their light approach to by-election campaigns in Eastleigh and Newark. I didn’t realise Naushabah Khan was a local until I read the article.

  46. Labour got close to our national average last time, it’s a much better prospect than Newark or Clacton and it’s a fairly short train ride from London. Unless there is a defection and by-election in a more winnable seat tomorrow, it’s worth commiting some resources.

    A gain would be unlikely, but if it happened it would likely be a game-changer. But even if it doesn’t, there are still reasons to fight hard – the Tories coming third would be humiliating and we need to keep testing our messages against UKIP.

  47. I can’t help feeling Labour’s candidate choice isn’t ideal for this seat

  48. This is her LinkedIn profile:

    Plus she’s a kickboxing enthusiast.

  49. “David Cameron is alleged to have called the former Rochester and Strood Conservative MP Mark Reckless a “fat arse” following his defection to UKIP. Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has raised eyebrows over a quip that UKIP defectors are “the sort of people that have sex with vacuum cleaners.”

  50. Can’t help but feel it will do them little good even if it is quite cathartic.

1 2 3 22
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)