Updated: Sunday, 8th December 2019 @ 5:52am

Rochester by-election win for Ukip is 'inescapable disaster' for Tories, warns expert

Rochester by-election win for Ukip is 'inescapable disaster' for Tories, warns expert

| By Jack Howson

A Ukip win in the Rochester by-election tomorrow would be a 'disaster’ for Tories... but that's just what a Manchester politics expert believes is inevitable.

The vote was triggered after Conservative MP Mark Reckless resigned his seat in September, defecting to rival party Ukip in a bid to try and reclaim his seat under his new party colours.

However Professor Dr Robert Ford, a lecturer at Manchester University, says he thinks Reckless’ defection is part bravery, part selfish career advancement.

He told MM: “It was a big risk for him because it's not natural Ukip territory, but also I think he had seen internal polling that suggested he was going to be in for quite a dogfight in the general election, so he decided he'd rather try things under a new party's colours.

“Clearly he felt this was a better move for him, and of course a lot more people know his name now than when he was a backbencher, so I think it was both brave, and to some degree career-focused as well.”

As voters head to polling stations across the Kent constituency of Rochester and Strood, experts across the country are formulating opinions on how the result will impact on British politics in the run-up to the general election in May.

Speaking to the BBC in an interview on Tuesday, Reckless said that he was getting ‘a better response on the doorstep than I ever did as a Conservative’.

In response to his comments, Dr Ford said: “This shows how negative the mainstream parties' brands are with the average voter these days: that exactly the same person can get a much more positive reception simply by putting a different coloured rosette on.”

Back in August, Reckless’ close friend Douglas Carswell was voted back in to his old seat in Clacton under his new role within Ukip after leaving the Conservatives.

However Dr Robert Ford predicts the result will see Ukip win with around ten percentage points, followed closely by the Conservatives.

He told MM: “The Labour vote has just collapsed and gone to Ukip, so it may well be Tories second and Labour a distant third.

“The Tories will try and spin that as a disaster for Labour, inevitably, but really, the result can’t be anything other than a disaster for them.”

Image courtesy of BBC, via Youtube, with thanks.