United Kingdom

Coalition parties suffer further defeat


The ruling coalition parties took a further hammering in a parliamentary by-election yesterday and again to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

In the Rochester and Strood by-election, in the south-eastern county of Kent, the main coalition partner Conservative Party lost to UKIP who won with a majority of 2,920. The UKIP candidate was the previous Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, who defected to UKIP on 27th September.

Although the loss of the seat will be a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservatives, it is all the more worrying because a general election is scheduled for May 2015, just six months away.

In the by-election the Conservative vote dropped by 14.4% to just 34.8%. UKIP, who had not contested the seat in the 2010 general election, took 42.1% of the vote.

The Conservatives lost the Clacton by-election to UKIP on 9th October to UKIP and the main opposition Labour Party almost lost the Heywood and Middleton by-election to UKIP on the same day.

The Conservatives’ coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, did even worse yesterday and dropped 15.5% to just 0.87% of the vote. The seat, the boundaries of which had been redrawn before the 2010 election, had, at one time, been a Labour seat. The Labour Party also did badly in the by-election dropping 11.7% to just 16.8%.

Although UKIP has set itself up as the anti-establishment party and a repository for the ‘none of the above’ vote and can therefore be expected to do well in by-elections, they are gaining a momentum which some sources say could win them as many as 25 seats in the general election.

Prime Minister Cameron and the Conservative Party are now bracing themselves for further defections from within their parliamentary ranks. The Conservatives have been losing ordinary members to UKIP at an alarming rate whilst the Labour Party, under the leadership of Ed Miliband, is also losing supporters.

The latest YouGov opinion poll for the Sun newspaper asking about voting intentions for the general election puts the Conservatives on 34% (36.1% in 2010), Labour on 33% (29%), UKIP on 15% (3.1%) and the Liberal Democrats on 7% (23%). The Greens, who had 0.9% support in 2010, are currently on 6% support.

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