Mark Reckless’ defection to UKIP has sparked a pivotal by-election in Rochester that could dismantle Cameron’s leadership. You know the PM is feeling the pressure when he resorts to childish taunts about Reckless’ “fat arse”.
So why does tomorrow’s Rochester by-election mean so much? The Tories lost Clacton-on-Sea to UKIP, but Rochester looks far removed from UKIP’s natural territory. This is a very average place in terms of age, employment levels and house prices. So, if UKIP can win this seat they can win anywhere. Also, there have been whispers of a vote of no confidence for Cameron’s leadership from senior Tory back-benchers. Should they be defeated by UKIP here there are fears that more right-wing Tories could defect to UKIP.
In effort to avoid this widely expected defeat, Cameron has instructed all of his MP’s to campaign throughout Rochester. This shows how concerned he is. However, if the Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst can’t win the seat with this level of party support, it paints another dark picture.
Tory strategists are suggesting that a UKIP victory would reduce house prices dramatically. They mention the stagnating house prices throughout the borough of Barking and Dagenham after the BNP won numerous council seats there in 2006. The strong views of UKIP could similarly tarnish this area’s reputation by making it seem like a hot-bed of anti-immigration sentiment.
But is this one last desperate attempt from the Tories to avoid a humiliating defeat to their former colleague? Tomorrow’s by-election will reveal all.
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Written by Martin Stocks | @Stocks1986