Are all bets off after fresh UKIP by-election victory?

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Media captionIn full: Nick Robinson's interview with UKIP leader Nigel Farage

All bets are off... the whole thing's up in the air. So says Nigel Farage on the morning after the night before. But is he right?

UKIP has certainly shown it can defeat everything the Conservative Party machine can throw at it - money, manpower, five campaign visits by a prime minister and, yes, even that kitchen sink David Cameron promised to throw in too.

The party did it in a seat less favourable and with a candidate less popular than in its first by-election success in Clacton.

Mark Reckless's victory will lead former colleagues on the Tory benches to ponder if they'd be more likely to survive the next election if they defect too. It will provoke divisions about whether the Tories need to harden their promises on Europe and immigration or whether that would simply play into UKIP's hand.

Labour too can no longer ignore the defection of its traditional supporters - a potential crisis for the party which will only be fuelled by the row about a front bench spokeswoman, allegedly, sneering at white van man and his displays of patriotism.

But even two spectacular by-election victories are no guarantee of winning seats in a general election. Next May, UKIP's votes and resources could simply be spread too thin to get anywhere close to secure Nigel Farage's aim - the balance of power.

After Rochester, though, many may hesitate before betting against it.

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