James Forsyth

Ukip 13 points ahead in Rochester & Strood

Ukip 13 points ahead in Rochester & Strood
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Tonight, we have a second poll from Rochester & Strood and it again shows Ukip ahead. Mark Reckless doesn’t lead by Clacton margins—Ukip are on 43 and the Tories 30 in this ComRes poll—but his advantage is formidable with just four weeks to go. Particularly alarming for the Tories is how many voters there intend to use this by-election to kick the government. 62 percent of those polled agree with the statement that, ‘“This by-election is a good opportunity for me to show David Cameron and the Conservative Party how unhappy I am with their government”

Having already announced that Cameron—and every other Tory member of the Cabinet—will visit five times, the Tories cannot now pull back from the fight. They have no choice to continue, hoping that something turns up to change the dynamic of this contest. They’ll be hoping that having a candidate, the winner of their postal primary will be announced tomorrow, will give them a chance to build momentum.

But, at the moment, it looks like Ukip is on course for a second by-election victory. Winning Rochester would be a more impressive feat than their Clacton triumph, where both the constituency and the candidate were perfect for Ukip. For that reason, a Ukip win in Rochester would cause far more unease in the Tory ranks. Tory unity, which has held together fairly well in the wake of the defections, would at that point be placed under almost unbearable pressure.