The Rochester by-election, which is to be held on the 20th November, was triggered when Mark Reckless, a Conservative back-bench MP, resigned from his party to join UKIP. Like Douglas Carswell before him he quit in order to trigger a by-election. He now hopes to follow in Mr. Carswell’s footsteps and win UKIP’s second seat in the House of Commons.
Writing in the Express yesterday, for ‘Farage On Friday’ the UKIP leader has boldy stated that a win for Mr. Reckless would result in a leadership challenge in the Conservative party.
He wrote: ‘The Rochester by-election is for me, for Ukip and of course for the brave Mark Reckless, political high noon. For Cameron too. If Rochester were to turn purple, the PM may well be handed 46 backbench signatures tolling the end of his political career.’
The claim is likely to worry senior Conservative figures as a leadership challenge is one of the last things a party needs when just over six months away from the next general election.
However, it is possible that such worries will ring throughout the party and potentially stop such a challenge. Instead, a UKIP win is likely to make more Conservative MPs think about jumping ship, rather than trying to steer their current ship away from electoral turmoil.
The Conservatives are currently fighting hard in Rochester and Strood, where the by-election will be held. A poll two weeks ago gave UKIP a nine point lead, but with over a month to go the situation could change.
The poll, conducted by Survation for the Mail on Sunday, interviewed 1012 residents of Rochester and Strood. According to the poll, 40% intend to vote UKIP, followed by the Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 25% and the Liberal Democrats on 2%.
In the article, Mr. Farage also attacked the professionalisation of politics, saying that: ‘Politics has become a battle of PR powerhouses, swaddling increasingly merging policy positions. The real function of Parliament, to represent and deliver democracy, has been eclipsed by an obsession with maintaining an ever-professional media façade.’
UKIP are still riding high, having won their first MP almost two weeks ago. The party has also continued to have success in the polls, continously coming third with around 15%-18% of the vote.
If UKIP win another seat before 2015, and the Conservatives go into meltdown, then it is just possible that Nigel Farage’s claims could be correct.
The full article, by Nigel Farage, can be found here: http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/524041/Nigel-Farage-Rochester-David-Cameron