Tory MPs haven't been spending very long campaigning in Rochester

Tory MP John Hayes on his way home

Under immense pressure to prevent another Ukip by-election upset, David Cameron ordered all 303 Conservative MPs to make at least three trips to Rochester and Strood.

But rather than "throwing the kitchen sink" at the fight as demanded by Cameron, Tory MPs were in fact obeying the prime minister's words to the letter rather than the spirit.

Journalists at the i paper set up shop outside Rochester railway station, observing that of 15 or so Tory MPs and ministers under a third stayed in the town, where Tory defector Mark Reckless is bidding for re-election but this time under a Ukip ticket, for more than two hours.

William Hague, leader of the house, could have been expected to set a good example, but after arriving at 11am on Monday he spent just 23 minutes wooing voters with Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst.

By 12.20pm he was back at the station buying a sausage butty and sausage roll for the journey back to Westminster.

One high profile figure not seen pounding the streets is London mayor Boris Johnson.

The star campaigner has been told to stay away according to a Tory source, owing to the fact the London mayor wants to build a massive airport in the constituency.

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