Sunday, 19 October 2014

A very brief comment about Rochester and Strood...


In the 2005 general election 20, 315 people voted Labour in the Harwich constituency in north Essex. Almost all of this constituency - everything but the town of Harwich itself - now makes up the Clacton constituency so spectacularly caputured by UKIP defector Douglas Carswell. In 2010 Labour still took 25% of the vote - which if you've been to Jaywick or St Osyth shouldn't really be a surprise. Yet Labour made no effort at all to fight the recent by-election with the result that its vote sunk to less than 4,000.

It seems to me that Labour is about to repeat this approach in Rochester and Strood - a place that had a Labour MP up to 2010. And the media seems set on letting Labour get away with fighting a seat that, were this a normal by-election causes by death or resignation, the party would have had every expectation of winning or coming close to winning. The truth about Rochester and Strood is that it's not a sort of Kentish version of Buckingham or Wokingham - it's a pretty working class place and Labour is hanging its support there out to dry, handing it over on a plate to UKIP.

If I were a cynic, I'd suggest that Labour essentially giving up on contesting seats where iit had MPs in the last decade reflects their running the dangerous game of wanting UKIP to damage the Conservatives. The problem is that, across much of the South, the consequence of this approach will be that UKIP will become - for the time being at least - the main opposition to the Conservatives.  And along the Thames estuary - perhaps the few places in the south where Labour remains strong - the party will die out.

Odd really.


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