Archive for the 'Eastleigh' Category


Eastleigh – the David Herdson view

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Who will the UKIP prostest vote unwind to, and how far

Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have understandably hailed the Lib Dems’ first by-election win in over seven years as “stunning” and “staggering” respectively – after all, their party has not had much to celebrate electorally since 2010 and a win is a win – but Eastleigh was not a great success for any of the major parties.

The Tories had the worst result but to finish within three thousand votes of winning, even in third, wasn’t a disaster, particularly since certain key components of their campaign weren’t firing on all cylinders. Lessons can and should be learned. If immigration was indeed one of the biggest campaign issues, the Conservatives really ought to be able to capitalise on that. Indeed, re-engaging with the key issues for Sun / Mail-type readers is something that CCHQ will no doubt be thinking about as 2015 approaches.

For their partners in coalition, the result obviously brought the boost of a hold, a win, and a new MP in Westminster. That shouldn’t however cloud the downsides. Their 32.1% share was the lowest winning by-election share of the vote in over a century, excluding an anomalous university-seat result in 1946, and as such was as much down to the fortuitous splitting of the remaining vote as of their own strength. Perhaps FPTP has isn’t so bad after all?

Labour are no doubt pleased at the Conservatives’ misfortune in not only failing to win but being pushed into third, while overlooking their being completely overtaken by UKIP in picking up protest votes, despite Labour starting with nearly three times UKIP’s vote in the seat in 2010. Had Labour gained the 24% from the coalition parties instead of UKIP, Labour would have won.

    The big questions arising from these underwhelming results is how much of UKIP’s sustainedly good election performances since 2010 is mid-term protest and how far can they surf that wave?

    Their on-the-ground operation obviously lags the other parties’ across most of the country and while that is – or can be – important in making a breakthrough, its importance can also be over-stated.

Maybe the difference between their local base and knowledge made the difference between a Lib Dem and a UKIP win but it didn’t prevent UKIP from winning over of a quarter of the vote from a standing start. A similar lack of prior ground operations certainly didn’t prevent George Galloway from storming to victory in Bradford West. On a bigger scale, there’ve been many parties of protest of both left and right across Europe who’ve capitalised on the unpopularity of the establishment to win very sizable shares of the vote with the Five Star Movement in Italy being the most recent example. Few have made it to power but that’s often (as seems likely in Italy) due to the establishment closing ranks and forming coalitions between former rivals. Whether that strengthens or weakens their positions against the newcomers depends almost entirely on how well they handle that office; they’re essentially putting all the establishment eggs in one basket.

Are England and Wales experiencing a similar realignment (Scotland, as ever, is different)? Until the Eastleigh result, I’d expected Labour to win a comfortable victory in the EP elections next year, with UKIP probably taking second. Given Labour’s inability to make any advance in Eastleigh, I’d now be surprised if it’s anything other than a comfortable UKIP first place. A fifth place for the Lib Dems may well be the best they can aim for. Whether that translates into a realignment at the general election in 2015 is likely to depend on Britain’s media, which tends to be conservative in both ‘small-c’ meanings. Despite UKIP regularly matching the Lib Dems’ electorally and in polling, there seems to be a massive resistance to breaking the three-party reporting prism through which both the print and electronic media are operating. That gives all three establishment parties a little time to take stock and respond, but only a little.

The longer that UKIP continue to pick up seconds and thirds – never mind wins, should they come – the harder it will be to exclude them both from general coverage and from the leadership debates in particular.

David Herdson


The Eastleigh reaction: Marf and Henry G Manson

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Marf thinks it is time to “Hug a Tory”

To Henry the lesson is that many voters still hate the Tories

David Cameron was chosen to lead the Conservative Party in 2005 because he was seen as a winner. Yet he has not won. He may be Prime Minister but he failed to win an election majority, as did Michael Howard and William Hague before him. We have to go back almost 21 years to the last Conservative majority from John Major a man from such a modest background that he would feel completely out of place and with today’s ‘Cameroons’. Major polled the highest number of Conservative votes ever yet remains a strangely peripheral figure in comparison to the shadow cast by Baroness Thatcher.

Cameron was selected in the good times. “Let sunshine rule the day” he proclaimed. The godfather to his children George Osborne was made Shadow Chancellor and both pledged to follow Labour’s spending plans until the financial crash in 2008. Yet the Bullingdon Boys were not ideally suited to preach restraint and austerity to a sceptical nation. A once commanding 20%+ poll lead was blown away and coalition with the Lib Dems ensued. The yellow party lost over half of their support as a consequence and u-turned on a swathe of policies. Yet one thing never changed. Many voters simply cannot stand the Tories.

18 months ago the Institute for Public Policy Research flagged this up. Despite Labour’s ejection after 13 years of government, the Conservative Party was seen as the most toxic party. In a poll of voters by YouGov, 42% said that they would never vote Conservative while only 36% said they’d never vote Liberal Democrat and just 30% would never vote Labour. My guess is that the figures would be even worse for the Tories right now. Which brings us to Eastleigh.

    Every man and his dog will draw different conclusions from the Eastleigh result. Mine is that is shows that even now anti-Tory sentiment remains stronger than anti-Lib Dem feeling. The Tories are still toxic.

Whatever the misgivings people have with the role of the Liberal Democrats and the Coalition, in a number of areas they’d still rather vote for them that the Conservatives. The Lib Dems will struggle in the North precisely because the anti-Tory feeling is so strong. Simply joining the Coalition was an unpardonable betrayal. But in Lib Dem & Conservative battles in the South the yellow team have a real fighting chance of saving seats and if they’re savvy, they will be more confident and assertive with their partners.

Eastleigh showed that despite a whole range of negative factors, voters are still open to voting tactically to keep out the Conservatives. The tactical voting conundrum should be a far greater concern to Conservatives than how to respond to UKIP. It’s what makes me begin to wonder if that blues can ever win a majority again. Rather than harking back to Margaret Thatcher, thinking Tories should perhaps be looking back at John Major in 1992. Even if it pains some of them to do so.

Henry G Manson

  • If you would like to purchase one of Marf’s prints or originals, please contact her here.

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    We wait for the by election result

    Friday, March 1st, 2013


    Are we entering the twilight of the leadership of Dave

    Thursday, February 28th, 2013



    Michael Crick, the other day tweeted

    Whilst the Lib Dems were said to be


    And Mike Smithson tweeted a few hours ago


    When David Cameron became the leader of the Conservatives in 2005, the Lib Dem majority was a mere 568, tonight judging by the betting sentiment the Tories may be pushed into third place, behind UKIP.

    Given the circumstances leading up to the by-election, and the news agenda in recent days dominated by the sub-optimal headlines and responses about Lord Rennard, and the Liberal Democrats consistently poor polling in the national polling for the last few years, then finishing third will lead to speculation about the merits of the Cameron project.

    If the Tories can’t win in Eastleigh in these circumstances, some will ask, how does this bode for the 2015 General election, especially after David Cameron’s speech on the European Union and the promise of a referendum, now that UKIP appear to be surging, something that Cameron’s speech was designed to reverse. Eastleigh is a seat the conservatives need to win in 2015, if they wish to have a majority.

    David Davis has already said

    “I think if we came third it would be a crisis, I think that’s the case, and if it’s a close second with UKIP on our tail it will also be uncomfortable.”

    Finishing behind UKIP, could see the Parliamentary Conservative party revert to their past form which has been described as Papua New Guinea style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing modus operandi when it comes to their leaders.

    Now we wait for the declaration, which is expected around 2 am, for Dave, he must be hoping it isn’t his Götterdämmerung.



    Harry Hayfield’s Thursday night by-election review

    Thursday, February 28th, 2013

    There are other contests a well as Eastleigh

    Wirral MBC, Pensby and Thingwall (Con Defence)

    Last Local Election Result (2012): Lab 37, Con 22, Lib Dem 7 (Labour majority of 8)

    Local Elections 2010: Lib Dem 5,151 (37%) Con 4,582 (33%) Lab 3,190 (23%) UKIP 518 (4%) Green 448 (3%) (Lib Dem HOLD)

    Local Elections 2011: Con 1,881 (37%) Lab 1,636 (32%) Lib Dem 1,209 (24%) UKIP 196 (4%) Green 180 (4%) (Con GAIN from Lib Dem)

    Local Elections 2012: Lab 1,406 (33%) Con 1,217 (28%) Lib Dem 1,079 (25%) UKIP 394 (9%) Green 190 (4%) (Lab GAIN from Lib Dem)


    It gives an idea of the Liberal Democrat collapse in Northern England that a ward won by the Liberal Democrats in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 local elections stays Lib Dem at the general election, goes to the Conservatives in 2011 and to Labour in 2012 (which reflects precisely the trend that has been seen in local elections since 2010 in the UK), so when you have a seat that is a Conservative defence gained from the Liberal Democrats where Labour are the challenging party then pretty much anything can happen (proven very nicely in Leashowe back in January when Labour won the 2010, 2011 and 2012 elections only to lose the 2013 by-election to the Conservatives)


    Kingston Upon Thames LBC, Berrylands (Lib  Dem Defence)

    Last Local Election Result (2010): Lib Dem 27, Con 21 (Liberal Democrat majority of 6)

    Last Election Result: Lib Dem 6,346 (46%) Con 5,717 (42%) Lab 1,381 (10%) CPA 265 (2%)


    Berryfields is in the constituency of a certain Ed Davey (the Energy Minister) who was elected as the member for Kingston and Surbiton back in the 1997 general election and his continued reign in the constituency can be put down to one simple fact. Labour voters would much rather have a Liberal Democrat MP than a Conservative MP. This fact was proven in 2001 when the Labour vote collapsed by 15% with the Liberal Democrat vote climbing 23% and whilst there was a swing back to the Conservatives in 2005, there was another drop in the Labour vote in 2010 that prevented the Conservatives from winning the seat. This pattern is also followed at the local elections. Even as least as 2006, there were Labour councillors on Kingston but at the 2010 local elections those councillors were defeated with them both going to the Liberal Democrats, so the question will be asked “Is Labour still of that same opinion almost three years into a Con / Lib Dem coalition?”. Well in the South Western London Assembly constituency (which in 2008 was a Con / Lib Dem battleground) the answer was a resounding “No”. The Conservative vote fell by 1%, the Labour vote rose by 13% and the Liberal Democrat vote fell by 10% (with the Greens and UKIP polling 10% and 5% respectively). A swing of 5.5% from Lib Dem to Con would be more than enough to see this ward elect a Conservative councillor (and reduce the majority on the council to just 4) which would make next year’s borough elections very interesting indeed


    North Lanarkshire UA, Coatbridge West (Lab Defence)

    Last Local Election Result (2012): Lab 41, SNP 26, Ind 3 (Labour majority of 12)

    Last Election Result: Lab 2,865 (75%) SNP 858 (22%) Con 107 (3%)


    It shows you just how much of a bedrock North Lanarkshire is for the Labour Party when even with the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote and a strengthing SNP, they still managed to win an overall majority in both 2007 and 2012. And as I mentioned last time for Rutherglen South, my esteemed colleague Kristopher Keane profile of the ward will do it much better justice than I, but I will say this, if Labour fail to win more than 60% of the vote I will be very surprised.


    Ashford BC, Beaver (Lab Defence)

    Last Local Election Result (2011): Con 30, Ind 6, Lab 5, Lib Dem 2 (Conservative majority of 17)

    Last Election Result: Lab 960 (41%) Con 787 (34%) Ind 569 (25%)


    To describe Beaver as rare would be a demonstration of how bad a time Labour had in the South of England in the 2006 – 2010 electoral cycle. In 2003, there were 1,105 Labour councillors in the South outside London (and Labour were in control of seven councils). By 2007 however, this figure had almost halved to just 690 councillors and control of just three. And it got even worse. In 2008, they won just 407 (down 200 on the 2004 locals) and in 2009, Labour managed to win a mere 42 councillors (compared to the 143 they had won in 2005). Vast parts of the South were Labour free zones, for instance in the 2008 local elections there were 14 councils in the South outside London with no Labour councillors at all. Despite the national success Labour has had in local elections since then, it’s been a problem for them in the South. In the 2011 local elections they made 90 net gains, and in 2012 they made about 200 net gains but despite all that there are still fourteen councils where there is not a single Labour councillor. Yes, for the Labour Party, the South can still be as barren as anything


    Eastleigh (Lib Dem Defence)

    General Election 1992: Con 38,998 (51%), Lib Dem 21,296 (28%), Lab 15,768 (21%)

    By-Election 1994: Lib Dem 24,473 (44% +16%), Lab 15,324 (28% +7%), Con 13,675 (25% -26%), Others 1,880 (3% +3%)

    General Election 1997: Lib Dem 19,453 (35% -9%), Con 18,699 (34% +9%), Lab 14,883 (27% -1%), Referendum 2,013 (4%), UKIP 446 (1%)

    General Election 2001: Lib Dem 19,630 (41% +6%), Con 16,302 (34% n/c), Lab 10,426 (22% -5%), UKIP 849 (2% +1%), Green 636 (1%)

    General Election 2005: Lib  Dem 19,216 (39% -2%), Con 18,648 (37% +3%), Lab 10,238 (21% -1%), UKIP 1,669 (3% +1%)

    General Election 2010: Lib Dem 24,966 (47% +8%), Con 21,102 (39% +2%), Lab 5,153 (10% -11%), UKIP 1,933 (4% +1%), Others 496 (1%)


    Eastleigh first appeared on the parliamentary map at the 1955 general election and at that election the Conservatives won the seat but only by some 600 votes over Labour. Following the pro Conservative swing in 1959 that majority increased by a factor of five. In those elections, one party was noticeable by it’s absence, that party was the Liberals. Their first foray into the seat was in 1964 where they polled 13% of the vote which some Labour supporters claimed allowed the Conservatives to hold the seat against the national swing, a criticism levelled at them again when Labour failed to win the seat in 1966 by 700 votes. The unexpected swing to Conservative in 1970 saw the Conservatives hold the seat with their majority increasing by a factor of ten. At the February 1974 general election, the Liberal revival saw them come within 700 of overtaking Labour as the second placed party in the constituency, but they were unable to capitalise on that in October 1974 and the seat returned to it’s usual Con / Lab battleground status. It was the 1983 election that saw the Alliance finally grab second place which they held at the 1987 general election that lead into perhaps the most dramatic switch around in electoral history when in 1994, on a 21% swing from Con to Lib Dem, the Liberal Democrats broke the Conservative stranglehold on the constituency and despite a couple of scares (in 1997 and 2005) the Liberal Democrats have remained in control. Will the by-election see this trend continue, will the Conservatives regain one of their former heartlands or could UKIP do what, up to a few months ago would have been unthinkable, and win their first parliamentary seat in a by-election?







    In the Eastleigh betting we could soon be seeing a Ukip-CON cross-over

    Thursday, February 28th, 2013


    The battle for Eastleigh – the biggest by-election betting event ever

    Thursday, February 28th, 2013

    How Betfair punters have seen the past three weeks

    Betting should continue right up to the declaration

    Generally a good way to follow how an election is to look at the betting prices – particularly on Betfair where what we see are real trades.

    Normally the campaigns only start to get a good sense of the outcome by late afternoon.

      The ones running proper GOTV (Get Out The Vote) operations have tellers at each polling station where they record the electoral number of voters prepared to divulge this information. The data is then fed back to the various campaign offices where those who’ve voted are electonically ticked off so the focus can be put on those yet to vote.

    The art is to ensure that as many as your supporters as possible make it to the polling station.

    By mid-afternoon party campaigns will start to get an idea of what proportion of “theirs” have voted compared with those of other parties and this starts to seep out.

    Of course not all the people down as one of your supporters might not actually have cast his/her vote for your candidate.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news


    The PB Eastleigh Competition: Test your forecasting skills by predicting the outcome

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

    Predict the winning party & majority in votes

    This surely has been the biggest and most important by-election for 30 years and it certainly has been the one that has been most polled.

    We’ve had five published surveys in all and even with them you’d be hard-pressed to choose a winner.

    So what do you think? Just state on the thread which party’s candidate you think will win tomorrow’s and give your estimation, in terms of votes, of the majority.

    So a typical entry would be CON 672 votes.

    The prize will be the honour of getting this right.

    Where two or more entrants make the same prediction the first on the thread will take precedence.

    Best of luck.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news