Ukip's Mark Reckless in a nine-point lead over Tories for Kent seat

The former Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood is standing again under Ukip, with an opinion poll of the by-election placing him as an almost-certain winner

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Indy Politics

The Clacton by-election is thought to be a shoo-in for the newly ordained Ukip candidate Douglas Carswell – and now the second defector to rock local politics, Mark Reckless, is also on par to win the seat he stepped down from, according to a new opinion poll.

Mr Reckless, whose shock resignation from both the Conservatives and his seat in Rochester and Strood was played out on stage at the Ukip party conference in South Yorkshire last weekend, is in a nine-point lead ahead of the Tories.

The survey, by the Mail on Sunday, put Ukip on course to win the by-election with 40 per cent compared to the 31 per cent enjoyed the Conservatives. Labour was on 25 per cent and the Lib Dems a miserly two.

Of those questioned, 40 per cent of those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2010 General Election said they will switch to Ukip, in spite of warnings by Prime Minister David Cameron that a protest vote could help to usher in Labour government.

Mr Cameron’s assertion, however, has been rejected by the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society, which says that Ukip’s “rising tide” is a “very serious” threat to Labour’s chances in 22 key seats.

 

There had reportedly been a negative reception welcoming Mr Reckless and Ukip leader Nigel Farage when the two tried to stage a walkabout in Rochester after the defection announcement. He has since been rallying support in the area.

Mr Reckless, who does not enjoy the constituent following that Mr Carswell does in Clacton, was given a grilling by his constituents, while former Tory colleagues were also trying to get an audience with him.

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps had, at the time, called Mr Reckless’ defection a “betrayal” and accused the MP of lying about his intentions, or not, to switch allegiances.

 

On the reasons behind their choice, 12 per cent of those in Kent said it was because they liked the candidate – compared to the 34 per cent of Clacton voters who gave this reason for Mr Carswell – while a huge 70 per cent said it was because they support the Eurosceptic party’s policies.

“If our polling, representing a snapshot of opinion taken in Rochester and Strood between October 1-3, reflects the final outcome of the by-election, the Conservative Party will be deeply worried,” Survation Chief Executive Damian Lyons Lowe said.

He added: “Should Reckless become Ukip's second ever-elected MP - despite the Conservative campaign machine threatening to 'throw the kitchen sink' at the election - certain Conservative MPs may conclude that it is actually safer for their careers to cross the floor to Ukip than stand and fight Farage's insurgency.”

The by-election is expected to take place in early November. Mr Carswell’s seat in Clacton will go to the votes this Thursday on 9 October.

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