The Tories have accepted the loss of Clacton to UKIP with moderately good grace, bowing to the inevitable as Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell timed his jump to join Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers perfectly. But it would be different with Rochester and Strood: there was no way they would let Mark Reckless make the same jump and return to the Commons afterwards.
Spiv has problem offloading dodgy motahs in Kent
After all, Young Dave and his jolly good chaps have a secret weapon: the Team 2015 organisation, which would be summoned by Grant “Spiv” Shapps and Mark Clarke to cover the constituency with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young activists, all willing and able to get the Tories’ message over to a sceptical electorate. With that behind them, what could possibly go wrong?
First up was to exploit UKIP’s “woman problem”. Female voters in the Heywood and Middleton by-election had not been persuaded by the Kippers’ candidate to anything like the extent that men had. So, to ensure the Tories got a female candidate, they had an open primary – but only two women were shortlisted. And lo, a smiling Kelly Tolhurst was selected. Things would surely now improve.
Then the youthful hordes of Team 2015 descended on Rochester and Strood, fronted by Shapps, who is a less than youthful 46, and Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, an even less youthful 52. But they were “leading the charge” and waving their Kelly Tolhurst banners eagerly, so that was all right, then.
Shapps was soon along to remind anyone not already asleep “Excited to say Team 2015 now has over 30,000 volunteers. Sign up to join them and secure Britain’s future”. Heck, tens of thousands of them, and all converging on the Medway towns. This would soon put paid to Farage and Reckless!
And, just in case there was someone out there not inclined to mosey on down to Rochester this weekend, Team 2015 announced “Join Jeremy Hunt next Saturday as he leads a huge Road Trip 2015 to Rochester”. Wow. With the former Culture Secretary on board, this was bound to be a success.
Alas, despite Shapps’ hot air, Team 2015’s enthusiasm and Hunt’s not at all swivel-eyed presence, the campaign has developed not necessarily to the Tories’ advantage: as Mike Smithson at Political Betting has reminded them, the latest opinion poll for the constituency, from Survation, shows UKIP opening up a whopping 15% lead. What a stunning result for Team 2015!
Of course, there are still almost three weeks to go before Rochester and Strood goes to the polls. But the postal votes are stacking up and all that money being thrown at the contest by the Tories doesn’t seem to be working. Well done Grant Shapps, eh?