Naushabah Khan – Labour's candidate in the Rochester by-election pic.twitter.com/EJVyShi0Pn
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) October 22, 2014
Could the Kickboxer kick CON and UKIP ass?
After Labour’s pitiful performances at the Heywood and Newark by-elections it is easy to dismiss their chances entirely in the Rochester and Strood by-election on November 20th. The national party has not given the impression that this is a priority and recent form does not bode well.
But in the only polling that’s been done, the Survation survey, Labour was holding up pretty well and if you strip out of the Reckless vote in that poll the non-GE2010 voters then the red team was within a couple of points. The polling is distorted because a large slab of UKIP voters say they voted that way at GE10 when, of course, there wasn’t a UKIP candidate in the constituency.
What has impressed me is the quality of the LAB candidate there, Naushabah Khan, who comes over more effectively than either Mark Reckless or the two contenders in the Tory primary. She describes herself as a commuter and a “Kickboxer”. In terms of presentation skills she reminds me of UKIP’s Diane James in Eastleigh who, it will be recalled, pushed CON into 3rd place. She also seems to have built up an energetically youthful activist base which is a key part of being a PPC.
Also in its previous form as Medway the seat was a very tight marginal which Bob Marshall-Andrews clung onto by 213 votes at GE05. There’s a history of strong organisation which suggests very good data particularly of its support base in the past. This is a massive asset.
The challenge, of course, is that Labour is up against the very well resourced UKIP and CON machines who are flinging everything at it.
I don’t think that Labour will win but they just might and for betting purposes I’m not ruling it out. If you use the Betfair exchange then lay UKIP or CON. The odds are not that much different from the back price and you’ll be covered if by any chance Naushabah does pull it off.