UKIP: the end of the beginning

Yesterday’s Rochester and Strood by-election returned Mark Reckless as UKIP’s second Member of Parliament. As I discussed in an earlier post, this completes the pattern of voters using their by-election ballots in much the same way they voted in the European elections.

We have therefore reached the end of the beginning. UKIP have gathered as much momentum as possible from the popularity of their EU platform and capitalized by winning two of a possible three seats in the only by-elections likely to be available before the May 2015 General Election. They have forced the Conservative and Labour parties to start talking tough on immigration, and Farage has delightedly said that if Rochester was ranked 271st most winnable, there are 270 easier seats to target.Read More »

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Two by-elections gone, but the important one is around the corner

Last Thursday, we had two by-elections with two different results: a UKIP victory in Clacton and a Labour hold in Heywood & Middleton.

Douglas Carswell’s victory in Clacton, winning UKIP their first-ever seat in the Westminster Parliament, was widely predicted. The by-election was triggered by his switch from the Conservatives to UKIP, amid mass publicity regarding his reasons for doing so. He was a popular constituency MP as a Conservative, and UKIP launched a massive campaign to make sure he would be re-elected under their banner. Their success is reflected not only in the fact that Carswell gained 59.7% of the votes, but that the turnout was 51%, well above the usual level for a by-election. But they were building on solid ground: in the 2014 European Parliament elections, the Tendring District Council ward in the heart of the Clacton recorded twice as many votes for UKIP (19,398) as the Conservatives (9,981). The swing from Conservative to UKIP had, in effect, already happened, and Carswell capitalized.Read More »