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Bookies cut odds on Ukip winning Midland seats after Rochester victory

Bookies cut odds on Ukip winning Midland seats after Rochester victory

🕔21.Nov 2014

The odds on the United Kingdom Independence Party winning Midland seats at the General Election have been cut following the party’s victory at the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Ukip is now at 11/4 to win in Cannock Chase, currently held by controversial Tory MP Aidan Burley, who announced earlier in the year that he would not contest the seat again after being criticised for helping to organise a Nazi-themed stag party.

Mr Burley enjoyed a 3,195 majority over Labour at the 2010 election. The combined extreme-right wing vote for Ukip and the BNP in 2010 amounted to 8.3 per cent of total votes cast.

Labour, who had held Cannock Chase up to 2010, saw its share of the vote plummet by 18 per cent.

Ukip is also at 11/2 to win Newcastle-under-Lyme, 12/1 to win Stoke-on-Trent South and 4/1 to take Dudley North, according to oddschecker.com.

Dudley North is held by former Labour Minister Ian Austin, who scraped home in 2010 with 649 vote majority over the Conservative candidate. Ukip’s share of the vote was 8.5 per cent.

Mr Austin has recently sought to confront Ukip head on by calling for Labour to take a tougher stance on immigration.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed his party will become a major force in Parliament following next year’s election if it can maintain momentum following victory in Rochester and Strood.

He said Ukip “can win anywhere” following success in Rochester, which was ranked as the party’s 271st most winnable seat prior to the by-election.

Mark Reckless, who won the seat in 2010 for the Conservatives, defected to Ukip and forced the by-election, which he won with a majority of 2,920 over Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst.

The Liberal Democrats trailed in fifth with their lowest vote total in a by-election.

Mr Reckless travelled to London soon after his election to take his seat in Parliament.

As he was sworn in at the House of Commons, he was flanked by UKIP’s other MP Douglas Carswell, another former Conservative who won a by-election last month.

He said his constituents expected him “to get back to work”.

The final hours of the Rochester and Strood campaign were enlivened by the resignation from Labour’s front bench of shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry over her tweet showing a picture of a house draped in the flag of St George with a white van parked outside.

Although the tweet had no accompanying words it was widely regarded to indicate a snobbish metropolitan attitude towards working class communities.

Her resignation followed two telephone conversations with Ed Miliband. The Labour leader, said by aides to have been very angry, is understood to have accused Ms Thornberry of lacking respect for traditional Labour voters.

Ms Thornberry subsequently apologised for causing offence.

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