There’s a by-election this Thursday, in which the Conservatives are going to lose Rochester and Strood to their former MP Mark Reckless and his new swivel-eyed friends in UKIP.   There are many reasons for this; no one likes the Tories much, their candidate is terrible, the new Kipper convert has a good story to tell (‘My principles wouldn’t let me stay in that shower so I’m giving the electorate a choice’), Labour voters are quite likely to lend votes to annoy Cameron and the constituency falls into the ‘depressed eastern coastal town left behind by globalisation’ pattern Farage’s lot find congenial (although to be strictly accurate it’s not *that* depressed, compared to other areas, but hang in there).

Naturally, before giving up, the Tories all but threw the kitchen sink at Reckless to try and retain the seat – Cameron planning on heading there five times personally and ordering a maximum effort from his remaining MPs.

[H]e’s not doing it all on his own. He has also ordered his 300 Tory MPs and ministers to visit the seat at least three times by polling day

The New Statesman, quoting the Telegraphreports hapless Chief Whip Michael Gove exhorting the troops to greater efforts in defence of the Motherland…

…sending out regular “Roll of Honour” emails to the parliamentary party, listing the number of times each MP has visited the seat, and naming and shaming those who have yet to travel to Medway to take on their former colleague.

Good boys and girls on this list include Grant Shapps, William Hague and Theresa May.  Missing in action are the Awkward Squad of near-UKIPpers and one Boris Johnson, who has taken time off to go to the USA to promote his new work of fiction.  Why would Boris not rush to help his party defend a key seat only a few minutes from north London by high speed train?

Partly it’ll be his laziness, some of it will be because he wants to position himself post-Cameron as the UKIP -attracting real Tory leader, then there’s his habit of hiding when there’s a risk of coming out on the losing side but his absence is mainly it’s because of one thing – his ridiculous and now deceased estuary airport plan.  Indeed, one of the key figures of the anti airport campaign was one Mark Reckless, as the large ‘boris johnson’ section on his blog testifies.  There’s even a video of Reckless questioning Boris directly, which incidentally makes fairly clear that Reckless is a sharper operator.  With the airport all but dead, Boris’s standing in the areas is approximately zero and his presence would only bolster the UKIP campaign (which has a heavy NIMBY element to say the least).

Indeed, having Boris in the USA may well be a mutually beneficient arrangement – the Tories don’t run the risk of him shooting his mouth off about plonking an airport on top of the place and he doesn’t get associated with electoral failure, with the bucket of manure heading squarely for the mazzard of David Cameron (and, of course, Michael Gove, who detests Boris, mutually).

Strangely, there’s an year-old invitation for Boris to visit the Medway area to explain his airport plans to the local, Conservative controlled council, which as far as we know he’s never taken up:

Boris Johnson should visit Medway and explain why he wants to build an airport here, according to the council.

The authority has called on the London Mayor to travel down from the capital in the wake of a trip by his aviation adviser to the county.

Daniel Moylan visited Maidstone to talk to members of the Kent Economic Board on Tuesday (September 24).

If he’d combined this with a campaigning trip this week he could have killed two birds with one stone.  I wonder why he didn’t?

Leader Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con) said a visit by Mr Johnson would be a “golden opportunity” for them to “state why it is the worst possible option”.

Ah, that’ll be why.  Perhaps Boris isn’t the answer to attracting back angry UKIP voters after all, if his relations with his own party are so poisonous.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.