As part of his speech today Nigel Farage showed off polling for various target seats. A couple of the polls were just the figures from previous Ashcroft polls that showed UKIP doing well, but three are Survation polls for UKIP that we haven’t seen before. They show UKIP well ahead in Boston & Skegness – on 46% to the Conservatives 26%, one point behind in Thanet North and on 37% to Labour’s 48% in Rotherham. Of course, polling conducted for political parties should be treated with a medium sized ocean of salt until you’ve see the tables with your own eyes (I’ll put up a link once Survation put the tabs up (UPDATE: here)), but the previous Survation polls for UKIP donor Alan Bown have used their standard methodology.

The polls got very brief attention as they were rapidly followed by Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP and precipitating a by-election in Rochester and Strood. Rochester and Strood probably won’t be the complete walk in the park for UKIP that polls have suggested in Clacton (Clacton’s demographics are absolutely perfect for UKIP and Carswell particularly well thought of). UKIP came top in Medway in the European elections, but that was hardly unusual and as an all-out unitary authority we have no recent local elections in Medway to judge from. The seat does not appear in Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin’s list of the most UKIP friendly Con seats. The unusual circumstances of a by-election though mean anything is possible – and from a national polling point of view, it keeps the UKIP bandwagon rolling, keeps them in the public eye, keeps the publicity coming, keeps them looking like a viable choice.

321 Responses to “Constituency polls and Rochester and Strood”

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  1. Well well, looks like David is suffering from a Chinese curse

  2. UKIP really need a Labour defector, otherwise Labour’s job of fighting them off gets much easier if they seen as arch Tories.

  3. The problem will be finding one. Austin Mitchell is far too loyal, and Frank Field and Kate Hoey would have insurmountable problems holding on at a by-election.

    Owen Jones suggested Simon Danczuk but I personally doubt it. Any other guesses?

  4. I can’t imagine them getting a labour defector, that would surely be a leap too far

  5. Gisela Stuart.

  6. It seems we’re approaching another watershed moment in the parliament.

    Tory grandees, MPs and party members will already be urging rapprochement with UKIP. UKIP victory in Clacton will accentuate matters and unless DC finds a solution (eg commitment to an EU in/out ref without it being dependent on the outcome of discussions/negotiations with the EU) I can see either more defections from Con to UKIP occurring in the next few months or a challenge to his leadership/premiership

    Really fascinating.

    I cannot help but feel that the ‘unreasonable’ focussing on immigration by the Cons over the last five or so years has created the UKIP monster. This double-edged sword (which I’ve often/repeatedly called this focussing) may yet cut a swathe through the Con party…

  7. keeps them looking like a viable choice.

    Interesting newly-coined meaning for “viable”:

    From OED:
    Of children at (normal or premature) birth.
    figuratively, Of immaterial things or concepts. In recent use esp. workable, practicable, esp. economically or financially.

    Do explain how UKIP policies are “viable” esp. economically or financially.

  8. I’d be absolutely astonished if there was a Labour MP who put ‘getting out of Europe’ and immigration as more important than the rest of Ukip’s Thatcherite policies.

  9. I wonder if there are regrets about the failure of AV? UKIP wouldn’t be such a problem for the tories under an AV voting system

  10. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one Labour MP who, if the conditions were right, would put their career ahead of their party. The question is whether there is anywhere where the conditions are right.

  11. the idea that ukip “harms labour as much as the tories” is a lie put about by the labour party to make people comfortable about voting for ukip. ukip is the tory party in exile basically with a few other ex-BNP, labour, lib dem voters…but the heart and brain of ukip is tory.

  12. @spadmetilimraw

    “Gisela Stuart”



    “I’d be absolutely astonished if there was a Labour MP who…”

    The fact that we’re struggling to think of even plausible possibilities says it all. You could find 20 Tories without pausing for breath. As Alec notes, if UKIP don’t find a Labour defector then it will become very easy to paint them (correctly IMHO) as uber-Tories with nothing to offer Labour’s traditional core vote.

  13. @Mike N

    The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems could fall into a barrel of mints, and come out sucking their thumbs at the moment.

    I think that support for UKIP, and to a lesser degree the Greens, is looking more and more like a permanent change of the political scene and not just a blip that will swing back at the GE (‘swing back’ copyright Robin Hood).

    Exciting times.

  14. “…heart and brain of ukip…”

    hmm, I’m going to show restraint now.

  15. MoEs for these all around +/-4 pts


    Gisela Stuart? lol

    Although extremely unlikely, if I absolutely had to choose a Labour MP, maybe Kate Hoey or Austin Mitchell (although he is standing down in any case so wouldn’t be worth him ruining his chances of a peerage from Ed M.)

    But really, we are in the realms of fantasy!

  17. Have CCHQ released a statement yet?

  18. Catmanjeff
    “…looking more and more like a permanent change of the political scene …”

    You may well be right. Goodness knows how the main three parties can respond to regain their apparently diminishing hegemony of the UK / England political landscape. One of the problems is that UKIP success will (possibly) breed more success.

  19. @Paul A

    I’d be amazed if Kate Hoey joined UKIP. She represents Vauxhall which is a very multicultural part of South London.

  20. Sorry to go Macbethian so soon, but I wonder if the influx of new (and more-than-average left-wing) members will shift SNP to the left. Indeed, they found in the referendum that the loyalties of Labour voters in Scotland aren’t THAT deep, and so they may reasonably infer that it’s finally time for them to make signifiacnt inroads in the Central Belt at Westminster, which is what I imagine most SNP members would actually rather do as opposed to being the centrist ABT party in the Highlands.

    That could be bad news for SLAB and good news for the Scots Tories.

  21. So how low can labour go and still win the election, with the right wing vote possibly split 3 ways could labour win without increasing their vote share from last time?

  22. RAF

    Like I said, realms of fantasy!

    Mind you, there were a few Labour MPs who defected to the SDP in the early 80s who represented ultra-safe and very traditional Labour seats (such as in nearby Abertillery and Caerphilly) who had no hope of holding their seats but were so discredited within the Labour Party they felt they had nothing to lose – none of them had the courage to resign their seats and fight by-elections ofcourse.

  23. @Richard

    I very much doubt it. Remember the “left wing” vote (and I use the term quite wrongly) could also split multiple ways – Lab, Green, lefty Dems, City SNPers, SDLP (OK the last one is a bit of a cheat!)

  24. Bill

    comments regarding the political situation in Scotland are not permitted on this thread!!


  25. I totally agree with Peter Crawford up page. The “threat to Labour” narrative is over blown. On other rather more partisan sites, Kippers are constantly accusing the Labour party of every foul deed known to man, they are going to take industrial north by storm. And yet I see very little evidence of it. Its the Tories they hurt.

  26. As Europe go into the Ryder Cup singles with a 10-6 lead over the USA, does UKIP have a policy on UK players staying within Europe?

  27. I know this is only indicative of the mood in a few places in west Sheffield – i.e. not representative – but I’ve spoken to quite a few lifelong Labour voters who are now thinking of voting UKIP.

    Somewhat surprisingly, they often have fairly high opinions of their Labour representatives and say things like “Well I like UKIP, but you’re not so bad and if you can get Clegg out…”

    Of course, I’ve also met vehemently anti-Labour UKIPpers in the same area and some of them were Labour before. It does vary, and unfortunately the lack of Tories in Sheffield means I can’t compare the attitudes of the two groups of UKIPpers.

  28. Paul A – “Mind you, there were a few Labour MPs who defected to the SDP in the early 80s who represented ultra-safe and very traditional Labour seats”

    The SDP represented a split on the left, while UKIP started as a split on the right.

    Did the SDP manage to get any Tory defectors?

  29. Personally I doubt Kate Hoey – she has only recently decided to stand again in Vauxhall and Labour locally and in wards it is very well organised and active. It swept the board in the council elections in May. UKIP still have a problem in London. Setting aside party political matters and policy differences within parties – I’m not aware Kate Hoey thinks of herself culturally as it were other than in terms of Labour.

    I gather there’s talk of a third Conservative to defect before the week is done – that may be the shrill of Twitter.

    However, if Labour loses its up-coming by election I don’t think we can rule out someone – perhaps Burnham for example – throwing a hat into the labour leadership ring.

    I don’t think after the Conference that Labour had it can afford to let any votes slip to UKIP. It leadership might also feel it needs to do something to change the terms of the wider national political….though it has to be said they failed to do this in less promising circumstances in 2009 – and getting rid of party leaders these days is not that easy.

    Yet, the whole sense I have is that the politics of the country is febrile and Labour is not excepted from this, far far from it….and many activists feel this…

    What next for the LibDems it still seems to get only worse for them – will they also push the panic button and drop Clegg and the coalition and force an early election? I’d rule nothing out if UKIP wing a string of victories.

  30. Candy – the only one was Christopher Brocklebank Fowler

  31. Several other Tory MPs were approached, including as I recall Ian Gilmour and Ted Heath. Many of them I believe were on the verge of doing so but bottled out.

    Many of the Labour MPs tipped as potential defectors – like Roy Hattersley – didn’t because they were emotionally as well as electorally attached to Labour, and I’m sure the same applies to Tory MPs like Rees-Mogg today.

    By the way, if you’ve got £50 or an academic library to hand, read Ivor Crewe and Anthony King’s book SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party. It’s fascinating for political nerds and contains some lessons which might be applicable today.

  32. FPT

    @ RiN

    Roughly translated, “O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau” means “O may the old language endure” and the national motto “Cymru am byth” means “Wales forever”.

    With regard to other comments above, the 2011 census in Wales showed that over half the population (57.5%) indicated their sole national identity to be Welsh, with a further 7.1% indicating it to be both Welsh and British. These statistics are slightly lower than those for Scotland, where (in the 2011 Census) 62% of the population stated their national identity as Scottish only and 18% as Scottish and British. Whatever UKPR commenters might think, the majority of people in Scotland and Wales do not identify their nationality as British. [By the way, my own ethnic origin is entirely foreign.]

    I do hope that the SNP does make inroads into SLAB’s rotten boroughs for the 2015 GE and for UKIP to take Con seats like Boston, Great Yarmouth and Thanet South. They would balance each other out nicely!

  33. “What next for the LibDems it still seems to get only worse for them – will they also push the panic button and drop Clegg and the coalition and force an early election?”

    And that would make things better how, exactly?

  34. @Malcolm Redfellow

    Apparently UKIP will buy up all the empty houses in Northern Ireland and organise flights from Manston to Aldergrove. Result all round.

  35. I think UKIP is more concerned that Labour voters should defect, than whether Labour MPs do.
    “Kippers are constantly accusing the Labour party of every foul deed known to man,” Labour voters won’t believe the Tories when they tell them that, but they might believe UKIP.

  36. @ John Murphy

    However, if Labour loses its up-coming by election I don’t think we can rule out someone – perhaps Burnham for example – throwing a hat into the labour leadership ring.
    I’d say there’s no chance of any Labour shenanigans between now & the GE. My experience of the prevailing attitude at the Labour conference is quiet determination to fight local campaigns. This strategy does mean that the odd seat where local conditions are particularly turbulent might be lost; but there could also be unexpected wins.

  37. Candy

    “Did the SDP manage to get any Tory defectors?”

    Roy Jenkins?

  38. Pressman, please, please don’t make me imagine Cameron and Miliband mud wrestling.

  39. Tory MPs have a special award for notables among the new intake… in 2010 the MP for Rochester and Strood was voted w****** of the week. By July of that year he had earned the soubriquet Legless Reckless.

    That said, no one can deny he’s applied himself during this parliament, on the Home Affairs Select Committee, as a critic of the ECHR, and to serial rebellion. He was voted pin-up of the year in 2012 by The TaxPayers’ Alliance and received another award from The Freedom Association (sponsors of Better Off Out).

    As I’ve said many times, even Farage didn’t bother reading Ukip’s manifesto in 2010. It was always going to be a tempting prospect for (now two) ambitious Tories to move in and fill the ideological vacuum.

    Bob Marshall Andrews managed to hold the old seat in 2005 (by 213 votes), so we’ll see if Labour have made any headway in areas covered by the new boundaries.

  40. This by-election is a real wildcard. Medway is the kind of place that the Tories and Labour have pretty much abandoned the past 30 years. Though it’s in the south, close to London, and I’d guess many Westminster politicians and journalists assume its prosperous and thus gets minimal investment or attention, it’s very deprived in parts.

    Apathy is rife – a massive disconnect from politics from most. UKIP could thrive in a place like that as dislike for the other 2 parties is high. Then again apathy is so great and people switched off UKIP may not even register to some. it’s the kind of place where the Lib Dem surge at times didn’t register as most people don’t follow politics at all.

    Rochester is different but a small island in a sea of deprivation and apathy all along north Kent.

  41. @daodao
    Just out of interest, did the census reveal how many inhabitants of Wales regarded themselves as English?

  42. Good Evening All.

    PAUL A.
    Funny on Roy Jenkins, who, as you know, was not a Tory at all; his Dad went to prison under them, for political action.

    The SDP fought a few by elections. Most ‘defectors’ stayed in Parliament.

    I felt disturbed by your civil unrest comment, in terms of Labour forming a Government. In a deal with the LD’s on coming to office, I envisage a new electoral system coming into effect for 2020. AV plus would be a way forward.

    I agree with you that the Liberal Democrats look to be heading for misfortune.

  43. @ Pressman

    “UKIP can’t win and everybody needs to understand this, it’s a choice between one man or another to lead our great country.”

    Sizeable UKIP and SNP presences in the HoC would be helpful in changing the political discourse of this “no longer great” state; they both have sensible views on the UK meddling in Iraq. UKIP now look as if they can win some seats (so voting UKIP in England is not a wasted vote) and it doesn’t matter which of the 2 pro-EU metrosexuals is PM.

  44. Amber

    It seems inconceivable that Labour would go through any kind of leadership crisis so close ti the UK GE. Is it even constitutionally possible?

    Interested in your comment that there “is quiet determination to fight local campaigns.”

    That can be a good strategy for a party with a strong constituency activist base.

  45. @ Catmanjeff,

    Certainly it’s going to be pretty hard for Carswell and Reckless to swing back at this point!

    @ Pressman,

    there would be implications in terms of civil disorder

    If the Lib Dems putting the Tories in power didn’t have people out on the streets, I doubt the formation of a government by the only party with a net positive poll rating is going to do it. The reaction across the political spectrum to a Miliband premiership will most likely be bored resignation- except for [email protected] H0dges, who will probably have to be sectioned.

  46. @ Dave

    re 2011 Census in Wales: 11.2% indicated their sole national identity as English and another 2.6% included English with another national identity.

  47. If Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister I think Don Hadges might have to be kept away from sharp objects or Conservative Party membership forms for a while.

  48. “Pressman, please, please don’t make me imagine Cameron and Miliband mud wrestling.”

    There was a trashy American soap in the 80s called Dynasty (or dysentery as Terry Wogan called it) – it was basically rubbish but every few episodes it would boost its ratings by having a mud wrestling scene between Joan Collins and this drippy blond woman.

    Nowadays we just have to go on Youtube to watch that sort of thing.

    I apologise this is a totally irrelevant comment that has nothing to do with either Welsh politics or the Reckless defection to UKIP.

  49. I like the idea of replacing the leaders debates with mud wrestling but should it be one on one or a free for all

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