Is the Rochester & Strood by election a blazing chance to judge the government or just a dead rock that happens to be flying by the political solar system this November?
When bookmakers and online gambling sites in the UK slashed their odds of alien invasion to 100/1, less than that of a Liberal Democrat government any time soon, the unfavorable comparison left party leader Nick Clegg once again looking like the chap who had put it all on red and seen the ball spontaneously combust into a shower of fireworks that spelled out “You Lose Sucka” in front of his face before coming up zero. He soldiers on, but you can tell perhaps even he’d prefer a visitation from another world to whisk him away from this one.
UKIP Have Less Than A Week To Wait
• New comers 1/25 to win by election
• Conservatives trailing in the polls by 12 points
• Aliens on Comet staying mobile betting no one will vote for them
Of course the boffins at ESA may well have managed to facilitate that with their wonderfully ambitious, and at the time of writing partially successful, mission to place a probe on the surface of a comet. Despite making a bumpy landing and seemingly wedging itself somewhere untoward, the achievement in managing this feat has won the team responsible plaudits across the world, leaving an impressed and fascinated internet to ask an important scientific question. Where’s all the ice?
Conspiracy theorists have already pounced on this latest projection of our technology into space pointing out a) It doesn’t look like a comet lacking a degree of icy-ness, b) It’s emitting an eerie noise that even the scientists call a song, and c) That “they” called the probe Rosetta in reference to the tablet that helped translate hieroglyphs on the walls of ancient Egypt. The crazies then took to the internet betting in the UK and elsewhere there would be people ready to believe this. They were right.
Scientists of course point out that comets are all inherently different, with some, extinct, comets being big balls of rock moving fast through space, that they’ve no idea what’s making the noise but you do have to play it back at 10,000 normal volume just to hear it, and counter claims about the probe’s name by sniggering quietly to themselves in corners having just trolled a million conspiracy theorist with a name that makes has no significance and makes for a snappy title at a funding request presentation.
Liberal Democrat Government Less Likely Than Alien Invasion
Are there aliens on 67p? No, probably not, but even they would stand a better chance of winning the next general election in the UK than the Liberal Democrats, not that this, by any means, would stop them being a king maker once again in a close run election that resulted in another hung parliament. Certainly the media, chattering classes and politicos are all gearing themselves up for the general election next year with Cameron trying to look like a statesman, Miliband trying to look human, and Clegg trying to look relevant.
In what would normally be quite a quiet run up to Christmas, the parties typically saving their ammo for the new year and that five month sprint to election day, the Rochester & Strood by election has caused ripples that have upset that normal practice. Now being portrayed as hugely significant by every pundit with a vested interest in doing so, this has become a rather misleading focus of attention as the extreme politics of UKIP (the UK Independence Party) attempts to grab headlines with what is, after all, more a stunt than a by election.
In a seat he won with over 49% of the vote Mark Reckless MP is re-standing for election under the UKIP banner which, if he wins, will make him the second Conservative MP to have defected and been sent back to parliament by the constituency voters under their new colors. Thus far the polls and the bookies both have him likely to do so with the polls showing a 12 point lead over the Conservatives, and a 27 point lead over the Labour party.
This means that Bet365 is giving UKIP 1/25 to take their second seat in the House of Commons, with the Conservatives at a generous 12/1 (possibly on the basis UKIP leader Nigel Farage has the look of a man who could do something really stupid at any second) and Labour, who have never stood a chance in this safely right-wing seat, out at 100/1. It says much about Nick Clegg’s electoral aspirations that the Liberal Democrats are at 1000/1, twice as unlikely to win as the Green Party. Oh dear.
Rochester & Strood By Election A Signpost To May 7th
The desperation amongst the major parties to place a positive spin on this almost foregone conclusion of a by election has become manifest with some describing it as a civil war between the various factions on the right-wing of British politics. With a week to go before the November 20th ballot the Conservatives are putting every effort into halting UKIP’s rise and indeed defending their own record in what is being spun by UKIP at least as a referendum on the government’s performance.
The intensely personal nature of this election has hit Mark Reckless at nearly every public appearance with members of his former party lining up to point out that but two weeks before his defection he was claiming loyalty to the Conservatives. “It’s a bit like telling your wife you love her and then you’re planning to leave her the following morning” Said Peter Hart who had been amongst those who selected Reckless for the job as Conservative candidate.
The sense of betrayal is very real and the Conservatives are throwing the full weight of the party behind what will probably be a wasted effort, they’ve little choice, the media are positively gleeful and gambling news coverage will be anything but sensational at a time when political correspondents have little else to report would be foolish. The big parties at Westminster are about to get right royal kicking. So obvious is this that the Conservatives are even asking left-wing voters to support them in a tactical vote against UKIP.
At 44% in the latest polls UKIP are romping away with a seat they’d be hard pressed to lose, but the publicity that surrounds this win may well make them a more palatable option come the general election and perhaps that will eat into Conservative support, something Mr. Miliband will welcome given he’s only 10/11 ahead of the Conservative 6/5 to win May 7th and there’s still plenty of room for an awkward uncharismatic intellectual to lose to a smarm bucket like Cameron despite his ghastly record. As for Nick Clegg, he may as well be riding a comet for all the chances he’s got of getting anywhere.