Sometimes, what isn’t talked about can be as interesting as what is.

Look at the week’s headlines about the Rochester and Strood by-election, for example. There’s the Conservative postal primary. There’s the poll today reporting a 13-point UKIP lead. There’s the development of both parties’ ground campaigns.

But there isn’t much discussion of Labour, Ed Miliband or their candidate, London-based consultant Naushabah Khan. They seem to have been written off in the race – or they have chosen to opt out of it.

That’s particularly remarkable when you consider that this was a Labour seat until quite 2010.

It’s a stark demonstration of Miliband’s failure to reach even former Labour voters, never mind new parts of the electorate. His predecessors would have been slated for such a lack of ambition in what was a Lab-Con marginal at the last election.

It may be that he’s content to allow UKIP to trouble Cameron on his behalf. But the very fact that he’s effectively abandoning his vote to be squeezed by one party or the other would have been unthinkable in such a seat under Blair or even Brown.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the by-election won’t be a major challenge for the Conservatives. It will, and once the candidate is in place it’ll be a hard fight to keep the constituency blue.

But in the wider picture, it’s worth taking a moment to consider quite how badly Labour are doing. How much further might their appeal shrink?

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