Latest Betfair trade has Ukip's Mark Reckless as a 78% chance to win the Rochester & Strood by-election pic.twitter.com/MN5bWpcTNr
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) October 12, 2014
Will the CON all postal primary get them into the game?
Inevitably UKIP go into the upcoming Rochester & Strood by-election with their tails up high. Clacton, and even more so, Heywood have given the party the “big mo” which they hope will carry over to the next contest.
Although the only public poll had them 9% ahead the demographics of the constituency make it a much bigger challenge than Clacton. Carswell, as the massive early poll leads showed, never looked beatable and the Tories from the start treated it as a damage control operation.
In R&S this will be very different. The blues want to stop the rot here and have already shown their intent by announcing a full postal primary to choose their candidate in which every single elector will get a ballot pack and be able to vote. This is a very costly exercise which the blues hope will give them an edge.
- The intention is that the primary will raise the profile of whoever wins who will be presented to the constituency as the “people’s choice”.
Then the campaign will take on the intensity that we saw in Newark in June when for the first time in 25 years the party successfully held onto a seat in a by-election while in government.
Already this is being talked up as a make or break moment for Cameron with suggestions from the Speccie’s James Forsyth at the weekend that the PM could face a leadership challenge if the battle is lost.
This is also massive for Nigel Farage. For a failure by Mark Reckless to retain the seat would seriously dent UKIPâ€™s remarkable surge and make it far less likely that other CON MPs will jump ship.
Whichever way it goes R&S will, have an impact on GE15.
LAB appears to have decided not to take this too seriously and, like in Newark, not to put the resources in. The LDs expect their usual lost deposit.
The betting is very much on UKIP which I think has moved in too far. I’ve put a bit on the Tories.