The date for the Rochester and Strood by-election has been set for the 20th November 2014, just over one month from now. The poll came about because of the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP, the MP followed Douglas Carswell’s lead by resigning from Parliament to seek the approval of his constituents for his move.
Although UKIP could have moved the writ to hold the election themselves, they have abided by a long standing custom that the party that last won the seat exercises the right to choose the date of the poll. As a result the Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove is expected to move the writ today.
At the last set of by-elections last week UKIP comfortably held Clacton and almost deprived Labour of the safe seat of Heywood and Middleton. However, in both cases the established Westminster parties ensured it was a short campaign as there is a general belief this will make it harder for UKIP.
In the case of Heywood and Middleton the UKIP candidate John Bickley said on Friday: “I’m under no illusion that if this campaign had have gone on two or three days more we’d have won”. In the end he lost by just 617 votes.
A UKIP spokesman told Breitbart London: “‘UKIP’s ability to increase its vote over a campaign may have outweighed any Tory hope to delay the vote further and pump in big money, but that’s their business not ours.
“Mark’s campaign is already active on the ground and more than two hundred volunteers joined him to campaign here on local issues after the fantastic campaign launch on Saturday with Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage.”
Despite the short campaign a poll carried out by Survation on behalf of the Mail on Sunday gave Reckless a 9 point lead over the Conservatives. UKIP are on 40 percent, the Conservatives have 31 percent, with Labour on 25 percent.
Mr Reckless won Rochester and Strood in 2010 with a majority of 9,953 however no UKIP candidate stood in that election.