Today a by-election in the little known constituency of Rochester and Strood is taking place. However, unlike most by-elections, the result is nationally significant as it could see UKIP gaining their second MP in as many months and signal an unprecedented shift in British politics.
Back in September, Mark Reckless, Rochester and Strood’s Conservative MP defected to UKIP, immediately stepping down from his post and calling a by-election.
The act was particularly embarrassing for the Prime Minister as it came just a month after Clacton’s much-loved MP, Douglas Carswell, shifted his allegiances to UKIP.
The defections caused ripples in the Conservative party and an open primary election was called to find a suitable candidate to run against Reckless. Kelly Tolhurst, an ex-councillor from Rochester emerged as the party’s answer.
11 other candidates are running for the chance to represent the constituency in parliament. These include; Naushabah Khan for Labour, Geoff Juby for the Liberal Democrats and Clive Gregory for the Green Party.
Various Hustings – opportunities for the public to question the potential candidates- have been held over the past month. Healthcare, housing and immigration have emerged as the topics most important to voters.
If the latest poll is to be believed then it seems that UKIP are coasting to victory. They hold a 12-point lead in the opinion poll, which means they could take a landslide win in today’s election.
The result is expected to be in by 3am on Friday morning. If Reckless becomes UKIP’s second MP and re-enters parliament for the last six months of the term then British politics can expect to be shaken up quite dramatically.
Not only will Cameron’s leadership of the Conservative Party be called into question, it may encourage more Conservative Party members to jump ship and join the ranks of UKIP.
As for the general election on May 7th next year, a win for Reckless may indicate that a considerable amount of previously loyal voters will switch to UKIP. This would break up the hold the three main parties have in Westminster and perhaps give UKIP the balance of power when it really matters.