THE BLOG

Rochester Fallout: Why the Old Party Leaders Will Probably Survive

23/11/2014 19:13 GMT | Updated 23/01/2015 10:59 GMT

The Rochester & Strood by-election result was incredible for Ukip. Although academics Ford and Goodwin have described the constituency as only the 271st most favourable to UKIP, we still managed to win the by-election - finishing over 7.2% ahead of the Conservative Party.

It was suggested that the margin of victory was lower than polls had suggested, and this is true but that doesn't mean Ukip underperformed. In fact, Ukip matched our poll ratings. The Conservative Party did slightly better than polls had suggested although of course they still lost the seat by a considerable margin.

The Conservative Party is leaking support across the board, and constituency opinion polls show them on course to perform worse in the marginal seats that they hold than elsewhere in the country.

Why, many people are asking, isn't Cameron's leadership under serious threat?

The Liberal Democrats dropped to fifth place with just 0.8% of the vote, behind the Greens who also lost their deposit. It's not just a one-off either: it's the eleventh time this Parliament, that the Lib Dems have lost a deposit at a Parliamentary by-election. This is all the more stark when you consider that at the last General Election, they were the only Party not to lose a deposit anywhere in the country. The only crumb of comfort for the Lib Dems is that they didn't finish behind the Party which believes that unicorns should be a protected species.

Why, many people are asking, isn't Clegg's leadership under serious threat?

The Labour Party aren't faring much better here. In a seat which returned a Labour MP until 2010 (there were minor boundary changes but nothing significant), a Labour government with a working majority would expect to either take Rochester or come very close indeed.

Not only did the Labour vote plummet, most going directly to Ukip, but the media story on Thursday was expected to be one of UKIP gaining at the Conservative Party's expense. But yet again, as with Ed Miliband's Conference speech, the Labour Party managed to generate further bad publicity. The election became a PR disaster for Labour as Emily Thornberry came under fire, and then resigned, over a tweet which was seen as looking down on working class people.

Having chosen the wrong Miliband as Party Leader, the Labour Party finds itself in a position where poll after poll shows that people don't see him as Prime Ministerial material.

Why, many people are asking, isn't Miliband's leadership under serious threat?

The answer to all of these questions is probably that each of the three party leaders is safe because the other two are faring badly too. Had Miliband been an effective leader of the opposition, Cameron would be in trouble now. Had Clegg not haemorrhaged support to the Labour Party, the knives would be out for Miliband.

Ukip has transformed from a small Pparty into a major player in the Westminster political arena. The fact that a delicate balance still exists between Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is probably keeping the old party leaders in a job. By winning the Rochester & Strood by-election, Ukip has shown that we will be a major force come the General Election.