A ComRes poll has given Ukip and their candidate Mark Reckless a prodigious 13-point lead over the Tories ahead of the forthcoming Rochester and Strood by-election on November 20th.
The survey, which questioned 1500 adults in the constituency, placed Ukip on 43% with the Tories in second on 30% and Labour in third with 21%. The Green and Lib Dems both registered 3%.
Ukip’s surge appears to be due to the eurosceptic party drawing converts from the traditional three main parties, with the poll showing 39% of people who voted Conservative in 2010 were planning to vote Ukip next month, as were 39% of 2010 Lib Dem voters and 30% of 2010 Labour voters.
Farage’s party has also rallied many who failed to turnout at the last election, with a staggering 57% of people who did not vote in 2010 saying they intended to vote Ukip in the by-election.
Following defeat at the Clacton by-election to Ukip defector Douglas Carswell, David Cameron has demanded the Tories stand their ground in Rochester, the prime minister promising to campaign “very, very hard” in the Kent constituency; many Tory party members are expected to travel to the coast to canvass. However, 66% of people polled said that sending so many politicians to campaign in Rochester and Strood made the party look “desperate”.
A hefty 86% of respondents said they had been contacted by the Conservatives in relation to the by-election, as had 71% by Ukip.
- Ukip 43%
- Conservative 30%
- Labour 21%
- Green 3%
- Lib Dem 3%
Former Conservative MP Reckless defected to Ukip in September, despite having previously denied he was going to jump ship. In a dramatic end to Ukip's party conference in Doncaster, Farage sprung the announcement on activists without warning.
Reckless was the second Conservative MP to defect within a month, following Carswell, who made the switch at the end of August, triggering the by-election in Clacton.
Bounding on the stage to a jubilant reception, Reckless said David Cameron was "part of the problem that is holding our country back". He said: "I promise to cut immigration while treating people fairly and humanely, I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative, I can keep it as Ukip."
Reckless, one of the most eurosceptic MPs, said he thought the prime minister's pledge to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU was nothing more than a "party political trick".
He said: "A Ukip which can do for our politics, what modernity has done for our society, a Ukip which is about hope and optimism, a Ukip which can safeguard our children's future and a Ukip which believes we are more than a star on somebody else's flag."
ComRes interviewed 1,500 adults in Rochester and Strood by telephone between October 17-21.