Battlefield Medway 2015: Too Close To Call

In the run-up to the 2010 General Election, I developed a computer model to project the vote share among the four main parties in Medway, which was largely accurate.

On the eve of polling day, I published my final projection results via Twitter, then sat through the count watching with interest to see how accurate my computer model had been.

The results were impressive:

Chatham & Aylesford
Party Candidate Projection Result Margin
Conservative Tracey Crouch 46% 46% 0
Labour Jonathan Shaw 36% 32% -4
Liberal Democrats John McClintock 15% 13% -2
UK Independence Party Steve Newton 4% 3% -1


Gillingham & Rainham
Party Candidate Projection Result Margin
Conservative Rehman Chishti 47% 46% -1
Labour Paul Clark 29% 28% -1
Liberal Democrats Andy Stamp 19% 18% -1
UK Independence Party Robert Oakley 5% 3% -2


Rochester & Strood
Party Candidate Projection Result Margin
Conservative Mark Reckless 50% 49% -1
Labour Teresa Murray 35% 29% -6
Liberal Democrats Geoff Juby 14% 16% +2
UK Independence Party Did not stand

The model, which combined local and national polling to provide a local picture, was, in most cases, correct within a reasonable margin of error. The only exception was in Rochester & Strood, were UKIP’s decision not to field a candidate against Mark Reckless made projecting the vote share there a little more complicated.

Over the weekend, Liberal Democrat blogger Chris Sams released his predictions for Battlefield Medway 2015. His analysis is quite detailed, and I would urge readers to take a look for themselves, but in essence he claims Rochester & Strood will be a Conservative hold, Gillingham & Rainham will be a Labour gain and Chatham & Ayelsford could go either way.

I thought this a little optimistic, and couldn’t see Chatham & Ayelsford being too closest to call, so I resurrected my computer model and updated the figures to calculate projections on where the votes currently lie:

Chatham & Aylesford
Party Candidate Projection Margin
Conservative Tracey Crouch 41% 38% – 44%
Labour Tristan Osborne 42% 39% – 45%
Liberal Democrats To be confirmed 4% 1% – 7%
UK Independence Party To be confirmed 11% 8% – 14%
Projected Result Labour Gain


Gillingham & Rainham
Party Candidate Projection Margin
Conservative Rehman Chishti 41% 38% – 44%
Labour Paul Clark 43% 40% – 46%
Liberal Democrats To be confirmed 4% 1% – 7%
UK Independence Party To be confirmed 9% 6% – 12%
Projected Result Labour Gain


Rochester & Strood
Party Candidate Projection Margin
Conservative Mark Reckless 42% 39% – 45%
Labour To be confirmed 40% 37% – 43%
Liberal Democrats To be confirmed 10% 7% – 11%
UK Independence Party To be confirmed 5% 2% – 8%
Projected Result Conservative Hold

The results speak for themselves. Rochester & Strood is projected to be a Conservative hold, Gillingham & Rainham a Labour gain and Chatham & Aylesford closest to call. Mr Sams, I eat my words!

The projection shows that the Liberal Democrat vote has virtually collapsed in Chatham & Aylesford and Gillingham & Rainham (as evidenced in both the national opinion polls and the 2011 local election), but has been largely resilient in Rochester & Strood. Conversely, UKIP has surged in Chatham & Aylesford and Gillingham & Rainham, but remained static in Rochester & Strood (they achieved only 4% of the vote in 2005) – perhaps largely due to the anti-EU nature of the incumbent Tory.

Of course, these projections are based, partly, upon mid-term opinion polling, and the political landscape may change dramatically between now and 2015. However, when you consider the figures involved, and particularly the margins of error included in the tables for information, one thing is clear:

At the moment, Battlefield Medway 2015 is too close to call!

Medway Messenger letter: Friday, 28 October 2011

Rebelling isn’t enough

MARK Reckless and Tracey Crouch defied the whips and voted for the motion [for a EU referendum], but Rehman Chishti ignored a majority and sided with the Prime Minister.

In politics, your constituents come before your party and your career. I have moved from Medway so will not have a vote, but in 2015, when Gillingham and Rainham is likely to lose a Tory stronghold and gain a Labour stronghold, I hope Mr Chishti knows how hard he needs to persuade the constituents he betrayed that it won’t happen again if he wants to regain the trust.

Former Medway blogger Alan W Collins, Birmingham

Yourmedway letter: Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Councillors in need of justifiable credit

In the Yourmedway edition June 23, I responded to a letter from a man called Ted.

He complained that two new MPs were remaining on Medway Council and that receiving two sets of allowances was “contemptuous”.

Conveniently, the two MPs he refers to are newly-elected Conservative MPs Rehman Chishti and Mark Reckless.

I pointed out that, in fact, the only contemptuous MP who needs to explain himself is Bill Esterson, as his new job in Sefton Central takes him more than 200 miles from his constituents (and listed home address) in River ward.

That said, I do not wish this article to discuss that point further. Instead, I, as the individual who prompted Medway Council to (finally) publish the allowances for 2009/10, would like to briefly muse over the allowances system afforded to councillors, and explain why £760,000 is value for money, unlike the inference made by certain local bloggers.

In 2009/10, Cllr Reckless received in total £9,025.20. That was the basic allowance afforded to councillors – he did not claim for travel and subsistence, nor did he have a special responsibility worth extra money.

Despite moving (temporarily) to Sefton after being selected to fight the general election and dealing with constituents via email, Cllr Esterson accepted £14,755 – the basic allowance, £49.60 for travel and subsistence, and £5,680.20 for his special responsibility.

Portfolio Holder Cllr Chishti received £20,385.60 – the basic allowance plus £11,360.40 for his special responsibility.

Let us remember, though, that there are 55 councillors, taking each a proportion of the £760,000 paid to them based on their needs and requests. That makes an average of just £13,818.18 per member – and, let’s face it, if most of us had achoice, we wouldn’t get out of bed for that.

Let us also remember that councillors are not entitled to salaries, and that allowances are received in order to recompense members for their time and resources used in helping and representing their constituents.

While certain bloggers have criticised payments made to members, I would instead like to pay tribute to the immense amount of time and effort employed by members of all parties in working hard for their constituents.

Never [sic] hsa the phrase ‘it’s not easy’ rung truer than when describing the role of local councillor – and whether you agree with the decisions taken and opinions expressed or not, the energy with which they go about their work for next-to-nothing should be respected.

Councillors don’t perform miracles, they can’t make big changes to your lives. But your local councillor can help you with the local problems that council officers ‘forget’ you informed them of. And as we are often reminded, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Now, how can you cap a price on that?

Alan Collins, by email

Yourmedway letter: Wednesday, June 23 2010

Here’s another MP for your list, Ted

I write in response to Ted’s letter about Medway’s two newest MPs remaining in their council roles.

I find it odd that he should criticise two Conservative MPs, yet fail to mention Labour’s Bill Esterson, who, not only remains on the council, but has also been elected as an MP, but more than 200 miles from his constituents in River ward.

At least Cllrs Chishti and Reckless are representing the constituents on the councilas they are in Parliament. And does he not realise that holding three by-elections in three wards would cost so much more than the £18,000* for keeping these three on the council?

Alan W Collins

* I realised, having seen the letter in print, that my maths was anything but perfect. That figure should, of course, read £27,000 – an approximation of the basic allowance multiplied by three – but my original point still stands.