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So an Eastleigh by-election is upon us. Can the Lib Dems hold on…?

They say you’ll never find a poor bookie. Well as the books open on the Eastleigh by-election one thing is clear – they have no idea who’ll win this by-election. You can get both the Lib Dems and the Tories at odds-on and also odds against. It is a straight two-horse race as it just isn’t a Labour area and the big question we’ll see for the first time in this new political climate is the effect of UKIP on a Tory/LD marginal.

I wrote last year that UKIP could actually be the saviour of the Lib Dems in 2015. It sounds mad but a strong UKIP could work very much if the Lib Dems favour. The majority of Lib Dem seats in the south are very much in Tory/LD marginals. Heck most of the marginals that the Lib Dems are in are with the Tories in the south. Now I hypothesise that a strong UKIP will pick up more votes from the Tories than they do the Lib Dems. Yes there will be Lib Dem protest votes that disappear to UKIP but the question is will these be more or less than those votes from disaffected Tories?

It should be noted that in the pathetic Police and Crime Commissioner Elections that in the borough of Eastleigh (which isn’t strictly the constituency ward but is the majority of) that the Lib Dem candidate got the most votes with the independent candidate second, Tories third and Labour fourth. The council is made up of 40 Lib Dems and Four Tories. No other party is represented. In 2012 Eastleigh actually saw two LD gains. So this is an area where the Lib Dem vote is strong and is holding up.

Chris Huhne took over the seat in 2005 and just about held on but in 2010 he increased his 600 odd majority to just short of 4,000. The seat was a three-way marginal but Labour’s portion of the vote has dissipated since their high point in the 1997 massacre where they were still a good 5,000 short of winning in Eastleigh. Labour are not winning Eastleigh so don’t throw your money away. This is now a two-way marginal with UKIP being the interesting party to watch.

I don’t think Chris Huhne’s actions will hurt too much with the electorate. It won’t help for sure but if the Lib Dems put forward a good local candidate who speaks well and campaigns hard then they it shouldn’t be a huge issue. I don’t see the Huhne personal vote as a big one. Just watching VoxPops on the local news and the general consensus is that he was an idiot and they are very disappointed in him personally – but not disappointed in the party.

This is without a shadow of a doubt the first by-election that will actually show something of this parliament. I know George Galloway won in Bradford West but that was very much a protest vote against Labour and an excellent local campaign. If The Lib Dems lose Eastleigh then they might well be in real trouble in 2015 but if David Cameron can’t take Eastleigh then there will be a large section of his party that will think they can’t win an outright majority in 2015.

Labour should sit back and watch the carnage and basically work out their 2015 strategy in large based on this. This by-election will be the largest indicator that we’ll get to how the Lib Dem vote is holding up against the Tories and in turn how UKIP will influence these vital Tory/LD marginal. After this by-election we’ll know so much more but for now all we can do is speculate and watch the drama unfold. Oh and Phone Bank, Phone Bank, Phone Bank…

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  1. Keith Tunstall Keith Tunstall

    I am quite sure the Lib Dems can come storming back in Eastleigh. Let the dust settle a bit and the good work that Chris Huhne and the councillors have done will be recognised. I knew Chris and he was doing a good job – the current situation is indeed a total tragedy in all directions. But get things in perspective: the Lib Dems in parliament are doing a superb job in saving the country from the policies of the wild men on the Tory back benches. Keep the faith.

  2. ReSocialist ReSocialist

    I find it astounding that there is anybody left in this country willing to vote for the traitorous sell-out Lib Dems.

    I, for one, will be very surprised if they hold onto this seat. Your point is interesting about the Lib Dem vote in the PCC’s and the 2012 locals.

    I’m not trying to be divisive at all but seriously, these people that are still voting for them really, really need to give their heads a wobble.

  3. Chris Chris

    “The seat was a three-way marginal but Labour’s portion of the vote has dissipated since their high point in the 1997 massacre where they were still a good 5,000 short of winning in Eastleigh.”

    I’m not sure I’d describe it as ever having been a three-way marginal (except in the 1994 by-election when Labour came second), but one problem for the Lib Dems is that before 2010 Labour had consistently polled more than 20%. Evidently in 2010 the Labour vote was squeezed very successfully (dropping 11 points), allowing the Lib Dems to rise by 8 points and end 7 points ahead of the Tories. If that tactical support evaporated – as I’d expect most of it to do in the present circumstances – that in itself would dispose of the Lib Dem majority. And that’s without taking into account the deep unpopularity of the national party among other sections of the electorate.

    Perhaps a high-profile UKIP campaign could damage the Tories, but it seems very unlikely to me that the Lib Dems will hold Eastleigh.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      It seems unlikely to you that the Lib Dems will ever get another vote ;o)

      As you’ll have read the party dominates the council, polled more in the PCC than anyone else in that area whilst it was clearly a very good squeeze in 2010 that squeeze would still be on. There are only two possible winners so its a question of do you want a Tory or a Lib Dem and even though the national party are not polling tremendously high locally the Lib Dems have held up well where there is a sitting MP and have a strong grassroots.

      If Peter Henley calls it a three-way marginal (BBC South Today’s Political Correspondent) then I’m fine with also doing so.

      I’m sure you’ll be lumping on the Tories the at the bookies if it is such a slam dunk. They are still available at odds against in places.

      For me it’s going to be an extremely tight race but to say it seems ‘very unlikely’ the Lib Dems can hold is going overboard.

  4. Man in the street Man in the street


    Huhne has totally fucked you. The lying, lying and lying some more bastard. And you fucknuts supported him all the way though when a blind man could see it.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Thanks Ian. I always wondered what your surname was and now I know. I don’t think you can call yourself the ‘Man in the street’ though considering you are a member of another party…

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