With one month to go until the second UKIP defection by-election, a new poll has cast doubt on the Conservative Party’s confidence that they would retain the seat, as it shows them trailing Mark Reckless by nine points.
Despite the blow of losing Rochester and Strood MP Reckless, senior Conservative figures were initially boosted by the belief his comparatively low profile would ultimately make the defection a fruitless one. The new poll, by Survation for the Mail on Sunday appears to challenge this belief, and if they were to be replicated next month UKIP newcomer Reckless would be elected with a comfortable margin.
All parties except UKIP are polling significantly lower for this election than the last in 2010. The Tories at 31 percent are down 18 points since 2005, and Labour are down three points to 25.
The Liberal Democrats have lost 14 points and have been relegated to the position of also-rans as they now poll at only two percent, meaning they would lose their deposit on the day.
UKIP, who have not stood a candidate in the Kent seat since 2005 are now at 40 percent, which as new entrants represents the extraordinary degree to which the party may attract voters from its rivals, and encourage newcomers to the ballot box in November.
It is acknowledged that by-elections can produce unusual results, as voters seek to air their grievances mid-term, however the polling for the Mail indicated this may be a permanent change for the Medway seat.
According to the survey, ninety percent of those who said they would vote for UKIP in this by-election would do so again at the general election next year.
The Mail quotes the head of polling agency Survation who said: “If this snapshot of opinion in Rochester and Strood reflects the by-election outcome, the Conservatives will be worried. This seat is regarded as 271st in a list of the 650 parliamentary constituencies most likely to produce a Ukip victory.
“If Mark Reckless is elected despite the Conservatives throwing the kitchen sink at the by-election campaign, other Conservative MPs may conclude it is safer for their political careers to defect to Ukip rather than stand and fight Farage’s insurgency”.
Rochester and Strood will go to the polls on the 6th of November, four weeks after this Thursday’s double by-election day, in which fellow UKIP defector Douglas Carswell is expected to retain his Clacton seat which he formerly held for the Conservatives.