An election took place in the UK yesterday, did you know? Well, don’t worry too much – Katie Riley has you covered.
SO, WHERE WAS THE ELECTION?
Rochester and Strood, a constituency in northern Kent.
WHY SUCH WEIRD TIMING? WHAT HAPPENED?
Right, so Mark Reckless (yes, that’s his actual surname) has represented the district as a Tory since 2010. On 27th September, he announced that he would follow Douglas Carswell and become the second Tory MP to surrender his Conservative Party membership and join UKIP. This move triggered a by-election, and it was that election that took place yesterday.
SO, RECKLESS WAS RUNNING TO RETAIN HIS OLD SEAT?
Precisely. Only this time he ran under the UKIP banner. The Conservative Party ran someone else, a woman by the name of Kelly Tolhurst, against him.
HASN’T THIS HAPPENED BEFORE?
Yup. Back in August, Douglas Carswell, an MP from Clacton, became the first Conservative MP to announce he would be switching his party allegiance to UKIP. Needless to say, he’s pretty stoked at the prospect of having a buddy in the House of Commons.
If UKIP can win in 271st most favourable seat tonight, real change in six months becomes possible. #Rochester
— Douglas Carswell MP (@DouglasCarswell) November 20, 2014
DID ANYONE ELSE RUN? LIKE LABOUR OR THE LIBDEMS?
Indeed, they did. Including Reckless and Tolhurst, there were 13 candidates – the most colourful of which was, of course, that of the Monster Raving Loony Party.
AND RECKLESS WON?
Yes, he did. Despite five recent visits to the constituency from David Cameron himself, Reckless beat Tolhurst handedly: [STATS].
IS THIS GOING TO BECOME A THING NOW, TORY MPs DEFECTING TO UKIP?
Well, the Tories sure hope not. Michael Gove made the rather non-advisable guarantee there would be no more defections. (But, he also bet £50 that Tolhurst would win, so what does he know?) But, Gove’s remarks were largely in reaction to Reckless saying recently that he’s been talking very closely with two other Tory MPs who are considering switching over to the Farge-mobile. It’s certainly getting people wondering whether there are more to come.
Con MP John Baron's told his local paper he won't jump ship to Ukip. Reckless & Carswell issued similar denials pic.twitter.com/21pTO1SvK9
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) November 20, 2014
YOU DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION…
Funny, isn’t it?
UGH, FINE. WHY DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER ANYWAYS? THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION IS ONLY LIKE… SIX MONTHS AWAY NOW, RIGHT?
I mean, yeah – this one by-election doesn’t eclipse the importance of the upcoming General Election. But, the Reckless defection (get it?) and subsequent easy re-election may be an important barometer of what 2015 is going to look like, of how well UKIP is going to fare. As the second defection, Reckless has shown that Carswell’s switch over to UKIP may not just an isolated event. It’s also further proven that traditionally Tory constituencies are more than open to voting for UKIP if given the opportunity.
RIGHT, I THINK THAT’S ENOUGH INFORMATION TO GET ME THROUGH A SEMI-SOBER CONVERSATION AT A DINNER PARTY WITHOUT FEELING LIKE AN IDIOT.
Glad to be of service.
OH, ONE MORE THING! I KNOW HE’S SWITCHED OVER TO UKIP AND ALL, BUT WHO IS THIS MARK RECKLESS?
I guess it will come as no surprise that he is very, very conservative on the issue of immigration. In fact, he cites the Coalition’s immigration policies (well, he calls them “failures”) as the main reason for his defection to UKIP. Reckless caused some uproar on Wednesday when he implied he favoured migrant repatriation, remarks that his new party quickly distanced themselves from. In a comment piece in The Guardian yesterday, Owen Jones made the argument that Reckless is utilising “straightforward BNP rhertoric”. Make of that what you will, I suppose.
THAT I SHALL.
Featured image credit: telegraph.co.uk