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. It’s been suggested that there was a huge amount of voter ‘churn’ at this by-election, the theory being that the Tories lost a very significant number of votes to UKIP but that they were partially replaced by tactical votes Labour and Lib Dem supporters.

    Of course there will have been votes going directly to UKIP which previously were Labour or Lib Dem, but broadly speaking is this ‘churn’ theory likely to be correct?

  2. Yes I think it would be. You probably get more churn at a by-election than a general election.

  3. Reckless doesn’t have Carswell’s popularity or charisma, but once again the tories’ chances of regaining the seat are being overhyped. A lot of labour voters will continue to vote UKIP if that means the tories are kept out. labour will be squeezed in 2015 from what they achieved in 2010, as the race will be perceived to be a two horse race between the blues and purples.

    Reckless will also be an incumbent, which should help, or does that only apply to incumbent tories?

    Anyway, Reckless has 5 months to establish himself for re-election. I think the tory by-election candidate was weak and she ran a campaign trying to out ukip ukip. What will her platform be in 2015. If she isn’t the candidate, the new tory candidate will have to re-establish him/herself all over again.

    I don’t think a tory regain of this seat is as obvious and in the bag as people think.

  4. I agree with Peter. I too think a Tory regain isn’t as plausible as has been claimed by many of their supporters.

    Granted Reckless didn’t do quite as well as a lot of us thought, but he still had a clear victory with a good four figure majority. He’ll indeed have been the MP for five years by May, and with that on his side I think he’ll come through again, however close it may turn out. I just don’t believe the Tories have quite enough to get this back, now Labour locally know they’re out of the picture for the timebeing, they’ll stay with UKIP I think to stop the Tories from getting the seat back- it all adds up to me. So no cakewalk in Clacton, but Reckless can hold on here.

  5. I think the tories’ main problem lies in the candidate…if they run with tollhurst, many will probably vote against her again. If they don’t, that will be a story in itself and the new candidate will have to get established in quite a short space of time.

  6. The LDs will probably poll about 5 percentage points more at the general election, and most of that will probably come from people who voted tactically for the Conservatives to keep UKIP out in the by-election. So that immediately puts the Conservatives down to about 30% while Reckless would remain at 42%.

  7. Yes they’ve got to decide on the candidate. I think Tolhurst to be fair to her actually did well to keep over 30% of the vote, I thought she’d do a good bit more abysmally than she did TBH. But I have a feeling they’ll go with her again for May and lose again now Reckless has been established as a conqueror of his old party. Even if they do change candidate, they’ll do well to get this back in the short period available to the Tories.

  8. Mark Reckless seems to be almost universally derided for being uncharismatic and uninspiring.

    Yet he stood as the Conservative candidate in the then Medway constituency in 2001 and again in 2005 and on both occasions reduced the Labour majority. Then in 2010 he took the seat, as Rochester and Strood, for the Conservatives with a majority of almost 10,000.

    Any thoughts on this?

  9. I think Tolhurst is almost certain to be PPC for CON. A fair few Ministers have praised her, strong local roots and she has incumbency value.

    The big thing to consider is that come May, voters will be deciding the government of the day & also on the leader of this country, so the CON vote will surely increase (inter alia…perceived weak opp leader, economy improving, government incumbency value ).

    So I would tentatively say it may be something like:

    It’s close and will almost certainly remain so.

  10. I think the Labour vote will recover more than that, making a Tory regain harder.

  11. Thats illogical. An increase in the labour share would make it easier rather than harder for the tories.

  12. The only explanation for the Tory vote being higher than the polls during the campaign is that there was more anti-UKIP tactical voting than expected, but those Lab and LD tactical voters are more likely to go back to their first choice in the general election.

  13. I am assuming that the lib dems will poll more than 0.8% in the actual election. I am also assuming that the majority of their 2010 voters voted conservative to keep ukip out….

    I think plenty of labour voters voted for ukip and will do so again to keep the tories out. I am assuming that many labour voters voted tory to keep ukip out. my hunch is that the 2010 labour voters who switched to ukip are more likely to keep voting ukip than the 2010 labour voters who voted Tory in the by-election are likely to vote Tory next May.

    Another thing that everyone is forgetting is that UKIP didn’t actually have a candidate in 2010, so a portion of the 2010 tory voters (say, 3-5% of the electorate) would probably have voted UKIP in 2010. The tory share in 2010 was therefore probably slightly inflated by the non appearance of UKIP on the ballot.

  14. Quite a few LDs went Con, but really they went all ways – to lab, ukip and green.

    Lots and lots of lab went ukip. A bit went Con.

  15. Andy that isn’t the only explanation. The polls could quite simply have been out, or not accounting properly for differential turnout, postal votes etc.

  16. I think UKIP could still hold on if Labour increase a bit. Sorry if that doesn’t make sense.

  17. From (the most accurate Rochester poll) LORD ASHCROFT;

    “Of those naming a party, 36% said they would probably vote CON at GE2015, 35% UKIP and 21% LAB.

    Just under three quarters (72%) of UKIP by-election voters said they would stay with their party next year, with 11% saying they would switch to the Tories and a further 11% saying they did not know what they would do…”

    But an interesting one I noticed is this:-

    % who said their reason for intending to vote for that party was because they would like that party to be in Government at GE:

    CON. 80%
    UKIP. 61%
    This is a factor that might increase if voters believe UKIP have a good of taking part in Government.

    I suppose what I’m pondering is: will UKIP lose voters if some of their softer voters think they have a chance of winning/coalition participation??

  18. It only takes 4% of the total votes to make a big dent in an expected lead of 12%. So the drop in the gap feels like a bigger deal than it is because 4% was 33% of the gap.

    Guardianista tactical voting – if that is what this is – will be a bigger deal in more leafy areas but then again I can’t see them voting Con multiple times, once maybe, twice even but regularly? That’s hard to imagine unless the Cameroon Cons turn into Lib Dem 2.0 but if that happens the political class might as well just merge into one party and be done with it.

  19. That’s hard to imagine unless the Cameroon Cons turn into Lib Dem 2.0 but if that happens the political class might as well just merge into one party and be done with it.

    That’s ukip’s point, surely. Farage used to say this all the time. “We have 3 social democrat parties and they all say the same thing”. Now, trying to court the labour vote, he ‘s gone all leftie, so he praises the NHS to the skies and pretends to be a left wing populist.

  20. What is a Guardanista?

  21. “What is a Guardanista?”

    Someone who lives somewhere leafy enough to be completely insulated from the consequences of their political beliefs.

  22. “and pretends to be a left wing populist.”

    If mass low skilled immigration is deflationary (through downward pressure on wages + upward pressure on living costs -> declining disposable income) and this was simply being masked by the credit bubble then it’s not really left or right wing – it’s just sense.

    It only seems left-wing populist because the people first effected by those deflationary forces are in the non-leafy areas. Eventually it will effect everyone – eventually even the oligarchs who are responsible for it because they’ll have all these workers on plantation wages and so nobody to buy the stuff.

    Imagine you had a country that was

    25% AB
    25% C1
    25% C2
    25% DE

    and someone said let’s clone and double the DE part of the population and make the country

    20% AB
    20% C1
    20% C2
    40% DE

    That’s effectively what the political class have been doing.

    It’s not left-wing populist although it might seem that way – it’s just sense.

  23. Naushabah Khan was a fantastic candidate for Labour. Very articulate, telegenic and intelligent. She has a very bright future in politics. Won’t be surprised if she rises up to deputy Labour leader one day.

  24. Perhaps you should write her a fan letter

  25. I bloody well wish we had three social democratic parties. Now we’ve got about three quarters of one.

  26. Peter Hitchens:

    “I wondered how our neutered, bootlicking, pro-government media would manage to turn David Cameron’s devastating personal and political defeat in Rochester into a disaster for Red Ed.
    Piles of money, tankers laden with snake-oil, five visits by the Prime Minister himself, even a frantic plea for Guardian readers’ votes, could not save the Tories from what I reckon was the worst defeat in their entire history, losing a seat to a party which really believes in what the Tories pretend to believe in.
    Yet you’d think the main event was the sacking of a Labour nobody by another nobody for doing nothing.”

  27. I would genuinely not be at all surprised if Reckless repeats the trick in May- the marginality of his return for UKIP looks a bit deceptive I think, he’ll be able to do enough to hang on I think, he’s got the incumbency on his side for a kick off.

  28. Benn thinking about this seat for GE2015.

    In particular the 10000 to 11,000 DNV.

    I think it is likely that more will go to CON than UKIP.

    If you go by ASHCROFT. .only 72% of UKIP BY-ELECTION VOTERS said they will stay UKIP. Most of the 28% will go to CON it is safe to assume..Let’s say 20%…that 20% of 17,000…3,500.

    But let’s says it’s 3,000. This puts the parties level.

    Now if we agree that twice as many DNV from BE vote CON than UKIP AND factor in some Grauniadista tactical votes…then the CON majority is something like :-
    14,000………………..BE 2014
    + 3,000…UKIP SWITCHERS
    + 3,000…DNV..BE2014
    + 1,000… TACTICAL

    So 21000/51000*100 = 41%
    LAB…….19…think some LAB will return

  29. Naushabah Khan was a fantastic candidate for Labour. Very articulate, telegenic and intelligent. She has a very bright future in politics. Won’t be surprised if she rises up to deputy Labour leader one day.

    How patronising! why only deputy leader? would people say this if she were a white man…”he ‘s very talented you know, he could be deputy leader of the Labour leader one day!”

  30. “deputy leader of the labour party” i meant. still can’t believe that post.

  31. I don’t agree with Deep Throat. I don’t think a Tory regain here can be so readily assumed here, certainly not by 7% anyway. I don’t think they’ll get as much as 7% back either. It might not appear obvious but this is harder for the Tories to get back then you might at first think. Don’t forget the candidate issues as well of course. And not putting a vote share for the Lib Dems is a bit annoying I think, or is that just me? Or are you saying they’ll get about 3% and the Greens the remaining 4%? Now I’m not one to talk up UKIP in any shape or form, but I think there’s every chance they’re not out of this contrary to what you say, so I will stick with my prediction that Reckless will win again for UKIP in May after a recount. If I’m wrong in six months time, we should never have doubted you all along Deep Throat. Until then, I continue to disbelieve your logic I’m afraid.

  32. Also I don’t buy all that pretentious ‘Guardianista’ crap either. And as I said, for God’s sake at least give the Lib Dem and Green vote shares to at least give your expert prediction some actual credence. I repeat, if you think Kelly Tolhurst is going to be the next MP here, you might end up disappointed again. Nothing against her at all, but the issue the Tories have here is now they’ve lost the seat, if they’re established once already as having done so, they can lose again. I think the momentum here is with UKIP and will be still in May. Six months isn’t all that long for the Tories to pull it out of the fire you know.

  33. The Tories assert that they’ll win the seat back. If this by-election had taken place, let’s say, in 2013 then that might be a reasonable assumption. But we’re only about 4 & a half months before the start of the general election campaign. It’s not going to be easy for them. I reckon it’s going to be very close and will, as some others have said, depend to quite a large extent on how wisely they select their candidate.

  34. Indeed Barnaby. Nothing is ever certain and so the Tories will have to throw quite a lot at this seat I suspect. The problem they have in doing that is however is that they leave other Kent seats under attack from UKIP, including neighbouring Gillingham for instance.

  35. Now also the voters here know by voting UKIP they can get them, many will still want to make sure the Tories get beaten again. If Labour don’t rise by too much compared with the BE, UKIP could do no worse than the high 30s here.

  36. So Khan is great & Tolhurst woeful.

    I do not see that the voters will think; “…hmm… Kelly seems unsophisticated inexperienced and doesn’t use big words…”. If you think a significant amount of voters HERE will vote on that basis, you are wrong.

    The results. ..Do you really have to use emotive language like this: “Also I don’t buy all that pretentious ‘Guardianista’ crap either. And as I said, for God’s sake at least give the Lib Dem and Green vote shares to at least give your expert prediction some actual credence…”

    Are you are the same TheResults who said (on BE day)?:
    “… My final byelection prediction is-
    Reckless (UKIP)- 47%
    Tory- 28%….”

    Tolhurst is local, she’s a councillor, has not upset people, is not controversial, has been saying the right things (to Tory ears) over immigration, many Tory MPs have been praising her campaign, achieved a better result than most expected (&predicted)

    I cannot see that she is an albatross round the neck of Rochester/Strood Tory chances of winning. .

  37. On the Sunday Politics yesterday, Theresa May made it quite plain that Kelly Tolhurst will most likely be the Tory candidate in the general election. With that kind of public backing her candidacy is pretty much a certainty, as long as she wants it.

    I do think the Tories’ chances of regaining the seat would improve with a more heavyweight candidate, though they have a good chance of regaining the seat no matter what.

  38. Whatever Deep Throat. Just mark my words, no matter how much you talk up Tolhurst, she won’t get this back, just because that’s what you want to happen. Personally while I think this will be extremely close, she won’t win, and Reckless will have the incumbency in his favour. I don’t think it makes any difference to the outcome here how you favourably look at Tolhurst TBH, because it’s UKIP who now hold the seat and not the Tories. If I’m wrong I’m wrong, but I just don’t believe Reckless will lose.

  39. And for your information yes I will use emotive language like that when I read all this talk about Guardinistas whatever the hell that has anything to do with in this seat? BTW, I would like you to be proved right as hard as it may seem, but I continue to believe there is more to the situation here for May than meets the eye

  40. By for May I mean the general election of course. And while I appreciate Tolhurst did indeed do better than expected by many including myself, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re jumping up and down screaming Tory gain like it is a dead cert. Reckless has been here ages and I really don’t think he’ll be kicked out now.

  41. The bottom line is that UKIP did not do well enough to be at all confident of retaining this seat. Kelly Tolhurst would be wise to plough through the storm and work hard on the seat to get elected at the General Election.

    Naushabah Khan deserves better and it is to be hoped that she will find a better seat to stand in whilst she is still in the politicians’ minds. Although there is the perennial problem that Labour’s best propspective candidates tend to be in London and the South, whilst their winnable seats are further North and are generally unsuitable for “parachuted” candidates, particluarly in the current political climate.

    Back to UKIP, they now appear to have three seats. Clacton, Thanet South and Boston and Skegness, where they are reasonably certain to win at the general Election. They may then get about five to twenty others, depending on how successful their campainging is. On the precedent of the SDP. it is questionnable whether this is enough to give UKIP the breakthrough to become a majori long-term political force, particularly given the rather mature, in age terms, nature of their grassroots suport.

  42. TheResults…an interesting last 2 posts. And I respect your thoughts.
    But I will stick to a CON gain by about 6-7%.

    Just one thought – did you notice how happy Tolhurst looked at the count and when the results was announced? While Reckless looked miserable. CON only need a 4% swing..something that a govt, that hasn’t been a disaster, should easily achieve.

    Tolhurst knows she will be an MP on 8 May 2015.

  43. the results

    “Also I don’t buy all that pretentious ‘Guardianista’ crap either … I repeat, if you think Kelly Tolhurst is going to be the next MP here, you might end up disappointed again.”

    reThen you’re missing the point of it. If that’s all their is to the Guardianista vote in R&S – only managing to narrow the gap a bit now – then I think Reckless is safe as Kent / Essex gradually drifts towards becoming Ukip-first territory.

    I’m saying it’s only in the leafier areas (or very low turnout elections like the Yorkshire PCC) where collective Guardianista tactical voting might be critical.

  44. “Although there is the perennial problem that Labour’s best propspective candidates tend to be in London and the South, whilst their winnable seats are further North and are generally unsuitable for “parachuted” candidates, particluarly in the current political climate.”

    A fair point. Nevertheless a majority of London’s 70-odd seats are either safe or winnable for Labour. The problem for white middle class SPADs is that London seats will increasingly select ethnic candidates, though this should work in Ms Khan’s favour.

    “Back to UKIP, they now appear to have three seats. Clacton, Thanet South and Boston and Skegness, where they are reasonably certain to win at the general Election.”

    I wouldn’t classify Boston & Skegness as “certain”. Probably a lesser chance than UKIP holding Rochester IMO. Certainly a 22 year old candidate will harm UKIP’s chances in Boston, especially given the party’s core voter base of grumpy pensioners.

  45. I think Reckless will do a lot of campaigning between now and May to hold on to this seat, even if it’s just by 50 votes. Don’t forget Deep Throat, HE still holds the seat, albeit for UKIP, and the Tories DON’T. I wouldn’t be so confident if I was you of a regain here. I think if him and his local team get out on the doorsteps they’ll be in with a chance of delivering a double whammy to the Tories in Rochester. I don’t know how highly Reckless is rated locally, but if he’s been a good enough MP, I think he could produce a shock hold in May- a forecast I’m making that although at present is being rubbished by more than one person here, may well turn out to be right in five and a half month’s time. Mark my words.

  46. Also, I seem to recall a certain party by the name of the Liberal Democrats I think, who regularly won byelections aplenty once upon a time, and often held said seats against the odds at the following general election. UKIP could take that mantle from them in the future I think for one.

  47. Today’s Ashcroft poll has figures for England only:

    Lab 34, Con 28, UKIP 22, Green 8, LD 6

  48. It is now surely not impossible that the Tories could go beneath 30% in 2015 and get a lower percentage of the vote than in 1997, ie. their worst ever?

    Robin Hood’s forecast is looking less likely by the day.

  49. Indeed.
    Just thing : I’m not totally conversant with the procedures of the Conservative Party. Theresa May may have “made it quite plain” that Kelly Tolhurst will be the candidate in Rochester & Strood come 2015, but does she actually have the necessary authority to make such an assertion?

  50. No she doesn’t, which is why she didn’t actually “say” it. But she made it quite plain between the lines that she wanted her to fight the seat again.

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