The result of the by-election at Rochester and Strood will influence the way that next May’s general election plays out. How much momentum will UKIP have?
The UKIP candidate, the sitting MP Mark Reckless, is unequivocably against the Lodge Hill development that will destroy a very important Nightingale population. Here is something from Reckless’s website.
It seems that the Green Party is also against the Lodge Hill proposal.
The Conservatives are in favour of wiping out the Nightingales and Labour seems rather reticent, as far as I can see, to say anything against the proposal and voted for it on the Medway Planning Committee.
It puts voters with a strong interest in wildlife in a dilemma. Would you vote UKIP, and support a candidate who wants the UK to leave the EU and the environmental protection that has crossed the Channel from Brussels and Strasbourg? Or would you vote Green and support a candidate who won’t be elected? Or would you vote for a party that wants to destroy an SSSI and its Nightingales, Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries etc?
Voting is a great responsibility. How would you exercise yours in this case?
It would help Labour voters considerably, for example, if there were many signs that Labour had a very strong commitment to wildlife conservation even if, perhaps, they are on the wrong side on this particular case. But, at the moment, seven months out from the next general election, there is nothing much on offer. Under these circumstances people sometimes look for protest votes. And in close-run by-elections, protest votes can make a difference.
And what happens at Rochester and Strood will influence next year’s election campaign. The seat is 9th on Labour’s hit-list but since 2010 the emergence of UKIP has changed the electoral arithmetic. What momentum might UKIP have after this by-election? And will the Nightingales be singing them on?