David Herdson on Saturday: We might have passed peak UKIP?

November 22nd, 2014

Is the message from Rochester that 2015 will be ‘close but no cigar’ for Team Farage?

Politics can be a contradictory old business. In many ways, UKIP has been the Party of the Year for the second year running. The SNP might dispute that but the reality is that the SNP lost their big vote in September while UKIP won theirs in May, becoming only the third party since WWI to win a national election. To add to that, they gained over 160 councillors at the local elections, have polled in a comfortable third place all year (apart from with ICM – a notable exception), and have, of course, made the Westminster breakthrough. Indeed, in winning Rochester and Strood, they become only the fourth party since WWII to gain two Commons seats in the same parliament, never mind the same year.

And yet those achievements can be misleading. In reality, 2014 was a year of consolidation, not one of advance. Last year marked their promotion to politics’ second division; this one has seen them maintain that status and the victories in Clacton and then again this week doesn’t change that. The gains in the Euros, locals and – to an extent – by-elections are a feature of those cycles operating over four or five years. Their polling, in the low- to mid-teens, is only marginally up on twelve months ago and is of a level that would not return a significant number of seats at a general election given their vote distribution.

It is a measure of how high expectations are about UKIP’s performance that the result of a win in a seat they didn’t even contest last time is being described as disappointing, particularly given the effort put in by the Conservatives. On the other hand, the narrative in politics is often about momentum, and UKIP winning by a smaller margin than any of the polls found has checked theirs a little.

In so doing, it also gives a bit of a pointer towards next year. We know that the Ashcroft poll found that voters in the constituency were likely to swing back to the Conservatives come the general election (all else being equal), and that UKIP undershot the lead Ashcroft reported for the by-election. Those two facts combined make it less likely that there’ll be any more defectors (or at least, any more who plan on standing again), and less likely that UKIP will make as many gains as they would have come May had they met expectations. Indeed, the two are not unrelated.

Part of this is because UKIP is riding two horses in opposite directions. On the one hand, those politicians most likely to defect are still Conservatives. On the other, UKIP is increasingly chasing the Labour voter, perceiving – probably rightly – that there are now more soft votes in the red column than the blue one. However, the net result of that contradiction is the sort of awkward and unconvincing speech Mark Reckless gave after his win where he tried to proclaim himself the voice of White Van Man. To nail that strategy, what UKIP really needs is a Labour MP to defect. I’m not holding my breath.

David Herdson

p.s. The Lib Dems dodged a bullet on Thursday. It might have been their worst-ever share of the vote, but it could have been worse still. One factor in the demise of the Owenite continuity SDP was when it finished behind the Monster Raving Loony Party in the May 1990 Bootle by-election; something which did much to destroy claims to be taken credibly as a serious party. At that election, the Loonies won 418 votes; in Rochester, the Lib Dems won 349.


Terrible expectations management but you can’t accuse Farage of lacking ambition

November 21st, 2014


CON GE15 prices moves up because Rochester wasn’t as bad as many in the blue team feared

November 21st, 2014

Tories helped by UKIP/Farage’s poor expectation management

This morning’s movement means that the CON price has advanced by 7 seats since SPIN opened its market 11 days ago.

The money’s now going on CON to retake the seat next May

Harry Hayfield’s round-up of all yesterday’s results

Bramhall South and Woodford on Stockport (Con Defence)
Result: Conservative 2,080 (53% +8%), Liberal Democrats 1,502 (38% +5%), Green 197 (5%, no candidate last time), Labour 132 (3% -6%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 468 (13%) on a swing of 1.5% from Lib Dem to Con

Uplands on Swansea (Lab Defence)
Result: Independent 671 (33%, no candidate in 2012), Labour 533 (26% -18%), Liberal Democrat 215 (11% -23%), Green 179 (9% -1%), Swansea Independents 158 (8%, no candidate in 2012), Conservative 154 (8% -4%), Plaid 104 (5%, no candidate in 2012), TUSC 31 (2%, no candidate in 2012)
Independent GAIN from Labour with a majority of 138 (7%)

Peninsula on Medway (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result: UKIP 2,850 (48%), Conservative 1,965 (33%), Labour 716 (12%), Green 314 (5%), Lib Dem 60 (1%)
UKIP HOLD (from defection) with a majority of 885 (15%)

Rochester and Strood (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result: UKIP 16,867 (42%, no candidate in 2010), Conservative 13,947 (35% -14%), Labour 6,713 (17% -11%), Green 1,692 (4% +2%), Liberal Democrats 349 (1% -15%), Independents 188 (0%), Loony 151 (0%), People Before Profit 69 (0%), Britain First 56 (0%), Patriotic Socialists 33 (0%)
UKIP HOLD (from defection) with a majority of 2,920 (7%)


Marf’s response to the other big political story this morning

November 21st, 2014

LookingaheadtoBoston (1)


Mark Reckless wins Rochester for UKIP with a majority of 7.2%

November 21st, 2014

But can he be confident of holding on next May and will it encourage more defectors?

In the end the Rochester result was a lot closer than any of the final polls had suggested but the first stage Mark Reckless’s massive gamble has paid off – he’s back again as MP for Rochester.

The winning margin was 7.2% which compared with the gaps of 12% and more that we had from the three final polls. It was much tighter than most people and the betting markets had predicted.

    It did suggest that you have to be cautious with polls where a significant part of a candidate’s support is coming from non-voters who are traditionally the ones least likely to turnout

He was helped by the decision of LAB not to take the battle seriously and put the resources in and by the dramatic collapse in Lib Dem support to less than one percent.

Looking forward there are two questions: is Reckless going to be able to retain the seat next May and will the less than emphatic winning margin act as a deterrent to other potential defectors?

In last week’s Lord Ashcroft Rochester poll the Tories had a margin of 1% when the the sample was asked for their general election voting intentions. But that poll has the UKIP by-election lead at 12%. This looks very tight for next May.

What we do know is that leading UKIP donors have been funding private polls so other potential defectors can test the water before they decide to jump. The Rochester result will put those findings into context.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


It’s looking like a UKIP victory but by a tighter margin than any of the polls

November 21st, 2014


Marf on Rochester and Harry Hayfield’s local and Westminster by-election preview

November 20th, 2014


Bramhall South & Woodford on Stockport (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Liberal Democrats 28, Labour 22, Conservatives 10, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Liberal Democrats short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservatives 1,862 (45%), Liberal Democrats 1,373 (33%), UKIP 538 (13%), Labour 369 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: David McDonough (Green), John McGahan (Con), Jeremy Meal (Lib Dem), Kathryn Priestley (Lab)

Twenty years may seem like a lifetime in local politics and yet on the surface very little appears to have happened on Stockport during that time. The Liberal Democrats are down two, Labour are up five, the Conservatives down three and the Independents are unchanged, but that doesn’t even begin to tell half the story. By 1996, the Conservatives were on the verge of being wiped out from the council and in 1999, the Liberal Democrats gained control of the council (as they did in Sheffield and holding Liverpool that they won the previous year) but despite a loss in the millennium the Lib Dems retook control in 2002 and kept it until 2011 when the impact of the coalition started to make itself felt as the Lib Dems made six net losses and it continued with three net losses in 2012 but that appeared to come to a pause this year when the Lib Dems stayed static. With Stockport being home to both Hazel Grove and Cheadle constituencies, will the Conservatives be able to prove that they can battle their coalition allies or will UKIP seize a chance and show that they can take votes from everyone?

Uplands on Swansea (Lab Defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 49, Liberal Democrats 12, Independents 6, Conservatives 4, Ratepayers 1 (Labour majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,302, 1,207, 1,161, 1,099 (44%)
Liberal Democrats 1,089, 975, 812, 782 (34%)
Conservatives 319, 313, 306, 301 (12%)
Green Party 614, 465 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Josh Allard (Con), Pat Dwan (Swansea Independents), Rhydian Fitter (Plaid), Fran Griffiths (Lab), Ronnie Job (TUSC), Peter May (Ind), Janet Thomas (Lib Dem), Ashley Wakeling (Green)

When Swansea was formed in 1995, it was as Labour a heartland as anywhere else in the South Wales valleys. In those first elections Labour polled 60% of the vote and won 57 out of the 73 councillors. Four years later Labour still won an overall majority despite losing ten seats and losing 12% in the popular vote. However, by 2004, things were starting to look dangerous for Labour as they lost control of the council (winning 32 seats) and only polled 33% of the popular vote. They were still able to govern though with thanks to the Independents but in 2008, Labour had a night to forget, because although they only lost another two seats overall, they came within 3% of losing the popular vote as the Liberal Democrats made four net gains and announced that they would seek to form an administration, this time the Independents came on board along with the sole Plaid Cymru member and for the first time since the council was formed Labour were not in charge. However by 2012, the situation was completely reversed. On a 17% swing from Liberal Democrat to Labour, Labour regained control of the council with a majority of 26 and inflicted 11 net losses onto the Liberal Democrats including all four Lib Dems in Uplands, the last seat being won from Cllr. Peter May by just 10 votes and in this by-election Peter May will be trying to regain his seat (but not as a Lib Dem, as an Independent) a pattern that was demonstrated in the 2012 local elections when nine Liberal Democrat councillors held their seats standing as Independents.

Peninsula on Medway (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 35, Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 15)
Result of ward at last election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,557, 2,307, 2,125
Labour 975, 898, 879
English Democrats 535, 476
Green 351
Liberal Democrats 298, 282
Candidates duly nominated: Clive Gregory (Green), Christopher Irvine (UKIP), Christopher Sams (Lib Dem), Ron Sands (Con), Pete Tungate (Lab)

Rochester and Strood (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result of constituency at last election: Conservatives 23,604 (49%), Labour 13,651 (28%), Liberal Democrats 7,800 (16%), English Democrats 2,182 (5%), Green 734 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Mike Barker (Ind), Christopher Challis (Ind), Hairy Knorm Davidson (Loony), Jayda Fransen (Britain First), Stephen Goldsborough (Ind), Clive Gregory (Green), Geoff Juby (Lib Dem), Naushabah Khan (Lab), Nick Long (People Before Profit), Dave Osborn (Patriotic Socialist), Mark Reckless (UKIP), Charlotte Rose (Ind), Kelly Tolhurst (Con)

UKIP will be hoping that what happened in Clacton doesn’t happen here. When Douglas Carswell defected from Con to UKIP and announced that he was standing as the UKIP candidate, the existing UKIP candidate was booted out of his post. He resigned his county seat in Brightlingsea and said “Vote Lib Dem” so whilst UKIP won the parliamentary seat, they lost the county seat. This time the district by-election is being fought as a referendum on a housing development on the Hoo (part of the same constituency) so will UKIP be able to win both the constituency and the district ward? Well, with some polls putting Mr. Reckless at least 10% ahead it does seem likely which then brings us to the next question. Will John Baron MP (Conservative, Basildon and Billericay) be next to jump ship to UKIP and if so, how many more will follow him and will they follow the examples of Mr. Carswell and Mr. Reckless or will they then announce that they are standing down from Parliament thus meaning that a by-election will not be needed.


Anybody got any by-election news from Rochester and Strood?

November 20th, 2014

Mark Reckless with his “wonderful wife”

Kelly Tolhurst looking a bit strained

It would be great to hear from you on the thread below.

What’s turnout like? How are spirits in the main camps? Any indications that this is other than a big UKIP victory?