David Cameron has called on Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green supporters in Rochester and Strood to tactically vote Conservative to stop UKIP winning the by-election. He said the by-election was a “two horse race” and that anyone voting UKIP was only adding “another notch” to their development.
The Prime Minister told the Kent Messenger: “I would say to people who have previously voted Labour, Liberal, Green or anything, that if you want a strong local candidate and don’t want some Ukip boost and all the uncertainty and instability that leads to, then Kelly is the choice.”
He continued: “We have got to focus people on that choice. It is a two horse race; those are the only two real choices and we the more we can get people to focus on who is the right person for the job, with the issues that people are caring about, the more people we can get voting for Kelly.”
But his comments solicited an angry response from UKIP leader Nigel Farage: “For a Prime Minister to beg voters who are by no stretch supporters of his, to gang up against the underdog is comical, for him to cite ‘uncertainty and instability’ as the reason is risible.
“The only uncertainty and instability that he fears is in the Tory ranks and whether he can continue to carry his own back-benchers. The Tory campaign on the Medway is rudderless, becalmed and now it seems without either a captain or a crew.”
Despite the Conservatives throwing huge resources at the by-election their early confidence has melted away as the campaign has progressed. They had hoped Douglas Carswell’s success in Clacton would be a one off based on his popularity, but UKIP still look set to win in Rochester despite having recruited a far less well established candidate in Mark Reckless.
The latest poll by Lord Ashcroft put Ukip on 44 percent, the Conservatives on 32 percent and Labour on 17 percent. The Greens are on 4 percent with the Lib Dems trailing on 2 percent. If a significant number of Labour voters switch to the Conservatives they could still win, but this is not expected to happen at this late stage.