What are Labour’s chances in Rochester and Strood?

3rd October, 2014 2:53 pm

Earlier in the week, Luke Akehurst wrote a piece in which he argued that it’s possible for Labour to win the Rochester and Strood by-election triggered by Mark Reckless’s defection to UKIP. The seat (under slightly different boundaries) was held by Labour until 2010 by maverick MP Bob Marshall-Andrews.

Reckless defects

However, for those hoping to see a Labour assault on the Kentish seat, they are likely to be disappointed. Senior Labour figures have sought to dampen expectations that Labour could win the seat, which lies at 129 on the party’s list of targets (outside the 106 that Labour are focussing most resources on). A win for Labour would, the argument goes, require the Tory vote to split with half going to UKIP, and for Labour to gain support without losing any 2010 votes to UKIP. Whilst that’s possible, it’s a tough task.

Don’t expect Labour to be throwing resources at Rochester and Strood in the coming by-election.

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  • John Dryden

    While winning is always great, why would Labour want to take this seat – just yet! With Cameron’s, “vote UKIP get Labour” cry still fresh in the air, a good show from Labour and either a narrow UKIP or Tory win would probably be ideal to keep the electoral powder dry and not send to many Tories scurrying away from UKIP before next May. A UKIP win might in fact lead to more Tory MP’s jumping ship before the General Election and split the “blue” vote even faster and deeper.

    • Redshift1

      Well we are talking hypothetically here but if a Labour win were possible I don’t think we could really overestimate how devastating that would be for both the Tories and UKIP. It would be amazing news and would result in unprecedented levels of dissent in the Tories, whilst UKIP would be looking a bit daft for causing the whole situation. It would result in a poll boost for Labour nationally.

      HOWEVER, the chances of this happening are incredibly slim. We’d need to put in huge amounts of resources to make it happen and even if we did put in that resource (at the cost of our 106 key marginals I might add) the chances would still be that we’d lose.

      So I don’t think this adds up strategically as one we can throw the kitchen sink at – not when the GE is now only a few months away really.

      • Danny

        I agree that resources shouldn’t really be wasted on the seat, but what’s stopping some Shadow Cabinet big-hitters getting a train ticket there (from their own wallets) and spending a day campaigning? You can get there from Westminster pretty much within an hour, it takes nothing from the GE kitty and will galvanize/excite the local activists.

    • RWP

      The biggest victory possible would be a Labour one rather than a UKIP one – they are a threat to Labour nearly as much as they are to the Tories!

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        28 more Tory seats than Labour seats are threatened by UKIP.

  • swatnan

    … a lot better than Clacton, but not as good as Heywood and Middleton.
    No doubt the ‘Opinion Polls’ will tell voters which way they should vote.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Quite. The best price at the bookies is 10/1 and drifting. Of course,
    it doesn’t prevent people like Toby Young using the idea to try to GOTV
    for Tories.

  • Rachel Catherine Garrick

    This is lovely speculation but as LCF chair for the area & vice chair of the Rochester and Strood CLP, I can confirm that we have good party support for the by-election.

    The campaign office is busy all day with activists coming and going, we have regional funding and Ed Miliband will be at our upcoming find raiser. Feel free to come along.

    Essentially this by-election is not about national strategy; it is about providing the local community with a genuine MP who cares passionately about the area and who isn’t prepared to gamble the fate of the constituency on the question of Europe alone. Locally, we are committed to supporting the people of Rochester and Strood.

    To be honest, this article is very poorly researched to the point that the Labour candidate’s name hasn’t been identified at any point, let alone the party ‘s strategy for the by-election. So, if you are wondering: we are throwing resource, time and intense effort at this by-election and, unlike the Conservatives, we do have a candidate: her name is Naushabah Khan.

    • RWP

      On the ground you may be busy (as we are all at election time), but how many EdM or shadow cabinet visits have you got booked, vs the number that Cam, George, Boris or Farage will be making?

    • Doug Smith

      That’ll be the Naushabah Khan who was involved in promoting Progress’s Purple Book, packed with ‘leave the big state behind’ Tory policies.

      One can only wonder why the LibLabCon don’t reach an accommodation and field a joint candidate.

      • treborc1

        Progress what a though, I think I’d vote Tory first but I would be if I voted Progress, may as well have the real thing then a Blair-rite copy

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        References? Evidence?

        Thought not.

        • Danny

          I can give you evidence I’m afraid Bill. She chaired an event promoting the woeful Purple Book on 2nd November 2011 in Rochester (at Rochester Coffee Co, a very nice establishment that does an excellent chocolate milkshake) and you only need to read the Purple Book to understand that it is full of Tory-like small state ideals.

          I’d rather Labour didn’t waste resources on the type of candidate that has been destroying the values of our party for the past decade.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Are you sure this isn’t a past misdemeanour? I note that she is also linked to The Fabians. I couldn’t find any evidence of close links with Progress. She’s quite young and went to a state school but yeah looks like she’s a ‘professional’ politician.

          • Rachel Catherine Garrick

            I was asked to participate in a similar event, despite my very active trade union background and traditional Labour ideals. Don’t judge a book by its cover (even if it is purple).

          • Danny

            You were asked to, but did you accept? I know what I would say if I was asked to be involved in an event spreading the Tory policies promoted in the Purple Book. It couldn’t be posted on here without an asterix or two.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Yeah, well Mark likes speculation- it gives Tory trolls on here the opportunity to tell us what WILL definitely happen next May without any evidence or references of course.

      Good luck Rachel !

      • Rachel Catherine Garrick

        Thanks Bill đŸ™‚

      • Steve Stubbs

        What will happen next May is that the voters of this country will cast their votes, those who can be bothered that is, and i will sit up and watch the results roll in in what will be the most interesting election since I qualified to vote back in the days of Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle.

        Everything else is speculation, pure and simple.

  • RWP

    What would be a bigger blow, for the Tories to lose Rocester or Labour to lose Heywood/Middleton?

    • Danny

      The latter, easily. It’s never been anything but Labour.

    • Steve Stubbs

      The tories will win Rochester, either the blue ones or the purple ones.

  • Daniel Speight

    As we watch Labour’s core vote drift away I wonder who will get the blame? It was almost impossible for the left to be blamed in 2010 so the Blairites tried to pin it all on Gordon Brown. Of course that did need them to forget that Brown had been largely the architect of New Labour.

    So in 2015 will it be Ed Miliband really was ‘Red Ed’ and that’s what lost it. Why is it so hard for those around Miliband and Balls to see that by playing the Douglas Alexander/Progress game with the ‘limited offer’ to the electorate they are throwing away the election.

    It just needs the courage to break from this Westminster ‘free market’ consensus. Labour’s history until recently has been one of reforming the markets, not letting them run with the wild anarchy as Osborne was boasting yesterday.

    Ed needs to step up and offer a crusade against inequality and to push policies that can be measured as achieving it. All it will take is some balls and a clear out of the Blairites from the shadow cabinet. In the meantime expect Labour to come in third in Rochester and a distant second in Scotland.

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