Rochester and Strood by-election
UKIP have won the Rochester and Strood by-election. As widely expected, Mark Reckless came top. A good result for UKIP which will continue their momentum and possibly lead to further defections. The Conservatives should not be too disappointed at the result and are in with a reasonable chance of winning it back in 2015. Historically, by-elections often punish the government and give them a worse result, but the subsequent general election generally sees things return to the norm. UKIP will most likely find it difficult to hold this seat come a general election, but they will have the advantage of the Conservatives not being able to throw the kitchen sink at the seat again as they will be more concerned with defending against Labour.
Whether Labour should have done better if it is to take office next year is another matter. Rochester and Strood, although its predecessor Medway was held by Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005, was always going to be a race between UKIP and the Conservatives. It is likely that tactical voting at the general election will squeeze the Labour vote further.
The Liberal Democrats managed to score the lowest percentage of the vote by any major party at a by-election since 1918 and as such lost their deposit for the 11th time this parliament.
Figures for the five largest parties:
UKIP: 42.1% (+42.1%), 16,867 votes
CON : 34.8% (-14.4%), 13,947 votes
LAB: 16.8% (-11.7%), 6,713 votes
GRN: 4.2% (+2.7%), 1,692 votes
LD: 0.87% (-15.5%), 349 votes.
In other news, last night's YouGov poll showed a small Conservative lead with CON 34%, LAB 33%, LD 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%. Today's Populus poll is showing CON 33%, LAB 36%, LD 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%.