Ukip’s Tory turncoat Mark Reckless cannot have been cheered by polls putting his old lot above Labour for the first time in two-and-half years over the weekend.
Reckless became the second Conservative MP to down tools and paint themselves purple, after Douglas Carswell’s defection, but the Rochester and Strood candidate’s cross-over isn’t going nearly as well as his Clacton colleague’s.
Carswell looks to have his Essex by-election locked up for Ukip at 1/50, having taken a couple of Tory councillors with him in what seems a vibrantly Eurosceptic area.
Despite sending Chief Whip Michael Gove to campaign in Clacton, Prime Minister David Cameron and co are resigned to losing the constituency, which will be fought on the blue side by former ‘Bread’ actor Giles Watling.
However, Reckless’ constituency looks very much in play as Ukip haven’t made great inroads in the Medway region since forming in 1993.
Nigel Farage’s side look far too short at 1/2 in an area of Kent where they’ve never managed more than 3.6 per cent of the vote at general elections.
Reckless may have got in last time out on a 6.6 per cent swing, which was much better than his party’s progress nationwide, but with no Labour incumbent to fight after veteran Socialist Bob Marshall-Andrews’ retirement, that doesn’t tell us much.
The 43-year-old has already moved his family out of the area, after what Farage called ‘really unpleasant, nasty abuse’, while both party Chairman Grant Shapps and former Foreign Secretary William Hague used Tory conference as a pulpit to castigate their lost comrade last week.
A Conservative hold in Rochester and Strood is available at 7/4, and with Cameron’s campaign machine promising to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ in Reckless’ general direction before the by-election is out, he may be on his travels again soon.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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