Coffee House

Could Eastleigh go the way of Cleggmania?

25 February 2013

The Liberal Democrats have a different relationship to the popular press than the other two main parties, both more afraid and more contemptuous. This I suspect contributed to the slightly unwise tone of Nick Clegg’s statement last night. His declaration that ‘I will not stand by and allow my party to be subject to a show trial of innuendo, half-truths and slurs’ was hardly what you would expect from a party leader trying to show humility.

One of the reasons that the Liberal Democrats are particularly sensitive to press coverage is the party’s memory of the unraveling of the Cleggmania. Until then, the Liberal Democrats had simply not been covered in the same way as the other two main parties. They then got two years of negative coverage in two weeks. The party ended up actually losing, rather than gaining, seats on polling day.


Talking to Liberal Democrats, I sense that some are beginning to worry that the same thing might be happening to them again. They are particularly jumpy about the coverage they are getting in the Mail, the most read paper in Eastleigh. Most, though, believe that the Eastleigh redoubt is strong enough and localised enough to withstand these national explosions.

From the Tories down in Eastleigh, there’s a sense that the Liberal Democrats will still hold the seat. But several add the caveat that if the coverage of this scandal stays on the front pages all the way to polling day, then things could get interesting. One thing adding to the uncertainty is that the Labour seems stuck in the low double-figures, a Daily Echo poll of its readers in Eastleigh town found that even there Labour were only on 12 per cent.

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  • Rose Hush

    Look at it this way, Its the people versus the 3 mainstream parties but we are not alone, we have Ukip behind us. So please ANYONE that can make it to Eastleigh to help them win, please do. Lets send shockwaves through the political system and tell them ALL, thats what you get for being so much up your own bottom and ignoring the good old british people!!!! Ukip, here we come.

  • philgcdr


  • NT86

    Dear Eastleigh, please do the right thing and vote UKIP.

  • AnotherDaveB

    “The tories down in Eastleigh” that Mr Forsyth talks to seem to be a defeatist bunch.

    I recommend you get some new phone numbers!

    • MirthaTidville

      Yes but these are probably the only ones left…

  • Geo Shepherd

    If the Tories don’t win this seat now, they will indeed have gone the way of the Norwegian Blue

  • Austin Barry

    ‘I will not stand by and allow my party to be subject to a show trial of innuendo, half-truths and slurs’.

    Cleggmania still exists although it is now practised exclusively by Clegg – a shallow, befuddled man who becomes more preposterous as each day passes. Whether he is a worse Deputy Prime Minister than John Prescott is moot, perhaps it is just a matter of the size of their relative chipolatas (and the boastful image above is no guarantee of accuracy).

    • Tom Tom

      I feel sorry for all those students denied a chance to vote at the polling station in Sheffield Hallam in May 2010……..I wonder how they would have voted…….in retrospect ?

    • AnotherDaveB

      Pompous outrage seems to be Mr Clegg’s default response to most things.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Pop! Goes the Weasel.

  • Grrr8

    Are people truly influenced by the DailyFail on issues that they have personal experience with? Or is it consumed more as a naughty indulgence/ amusement?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Who knows? You tell us. You usually have all the answers.

      • Grrr8

        Mostly Colonel, I have questions!

        • Colonel Mustard

          Ok then here are a few more for you to ponder.

          Do you think it is appropriate to refer to the Daily Mail as the Daily “Fail” when circulation in 2012 was 1,549,421 whereas The Guardian circulation in the same period was 167,833? Maybe your definition of ‘fail’ is different to its traditionally understood meaning?

          As the bien pensant establishment (government, NGO, media, academia) generally reflect the viewpoint of the Guardian rather than the Daily Mail in their ‘official’ positions what does that tell you about the nature of representative democracy in the UK? That a vociferous and disproportionately influential 11% of newspaper readership exert power over the lives of a largely silent majority of 89%?

          • Grrr8

            Colonel, if you think Paul Dacre “represents” as opposed to “manipulates” the silent 89%, you are a more gullible fool than even I imagine you to be. On “fail,” it’s a reference to their failure to get the facts straight, not circulation numbers. Better to compare their numbers to a glossy entertainment rag, Hello or Ok or something like that.
            Sent from my iPad

            • Colonel Mustard

              I can assure you that I am no gullible fool. If I were I would have been voting Labour since the last century. Your imagination I can only speculate about from your comments so it would be unfair of me to draw too damaging a conclusion.

              I note that you have not answered my question though, merely re-arranged it to suit the usual propaganda of the online socialist (and casting the obligatory slur in the absence of cogent argument). Which is, in effect, that the Daily Mail readership is somehow inferior to the “elite” who read the Guardian – and “manipulated” (whereas the Guardian does not manipulate, oh no, never) – which pretty much reinforces my point anyway. Do you actually have evidence that the Daily Mail shares its readership with ‘Hello’ or ‘OK’ magazines or was that just an elitist sneer? What about all that egalitarian ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’ nonsense? Does that not “celebrate and embrace” the diversity of Daily Mail readership or are British Labour-umbrella socialists just intellectual snobs after all? Reflecting that same dichotomy that infused the NSDAP and every other socialist elite up to and including the current Labour party – people supposedly “of the people” but unable to resist the temptation of the trappings of wealth, privilege and power over the “little people”.

              Now, yet another question. Who might I prefer to have a drink with? A Daily Mail reader or a Guardian reader? Hmm. Tough choice!

              PS I am not a Daily Mail reader.

              • Grrr8

                Lol – you are happening upon one of the core concerns/ tensions of democracy i.e. do the proles really know what’s in their interests (or as I question, can they be manipulated by Paul Dacre or merely entertained by him)? Not sure there will ever be an answer to this one.
                I am certainly a self confessed intellectual snob. I have no pretensions to being a man of the people. Though occasionally I do learn things from the ‘people’. That said, I’m certainly no Guardian reader or Socialist. More of an FT & Times reader myself.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Yes, but why focus on Paul Dacre? Why not ask the same question about the Guardian? Since it is not primarily an entertainment journal but more a politico-moral lecturer, how much does that contribute to the existence of an intellectually snobbish, left-leaning elite who think they know better than anyone else and what is best for everyone?

                  In the current stage of cultural revolution I think that is a more pressing and urgent question.

                • Grrr8

                  Well atleast two reasons to focus on Dacre. One, as you joyously point out: he has a huge circulation, much larger than the Guardian’s. Two, he mostly disagrees with me vs. the Guardian which sometimes disagrees with me. I would also argue that the Guardian is factual and Dacre is not but then we’d get into a debate on what are “facts”. And its too early in the morning for me to turn Popperian.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Ah, so you are a Guardian reading socialist either being reinforced by them or “manipulated” by them. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.

                • Grrr8

                  LOL – feel free to jump to your own conclusions.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  No. They are your conclusions!

                  PS “LOL” is tired now.

  • Barbara Stevens

    I’m sick of hearing about Eastleigh, if they voters have any sense they’ll dump all in parliament and vote for the UKIP candidate and have a fresh face and party.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      UKIP ought to consider importing Beppe Grillo who from the back of a camper van has just persuaded Italians to vote no to the EU project.

      • The Red Bladder

        Isn’t one clown enough for any political party then?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Labour, Labour-Lite or Labour Copycat. Some choice!

    • MikeBrighton

      or…incompotent socialists, lying socialists or just socialists pretending to be conservatives

      • dalai guevara

        Yes, privatising healthcare whilst welcoming bankers to the public payroll/bonus payments. Britain has gone mad

        • Colonel Mustard

          Hmm. Labour’s ‘holier than thou’ stance on NHS privatisation is curious, but I suppose it comes down to that neat trick of socialist re-invention where each successive Labour hierarchy distances itself from the previous one and manages to bury their crimes (aided and abetted by the BBC and other ‘independent’ and impartial media of course). In the same way that Stalin, Mao, Cousesceau and Pol Pot were not really communists, New Labour were not really Labour – or socialists for that matter. The presence of Miliband, Balls, Burnham, Harmon, Alexander et al in the thick of the “previous” Labour administration is just pure coincidence.

          In fact the neat trick, exploited by the PRC too, is to embrace capitalism for cynical reasons whilst steadfastly maintaining socialist “principles” and denouncing other parties which adopt a more honest approach to their policies.

          New Labour, whilst leaving services free at point of use, encouraged the outsourcing of medical services and support to the private sector. Under the Private Finance Initiative, an increasing number of hospitals were built or rebuilt by private sector consortia. Hospitals could have both medical services such as “surgicentres” and non-medical services such as catering provided under long-term contracts by the private sector. A study by a consultancy company which worked for the Department of Health showed that every £200 million spent on privately financed hospitals would result in the loss of 1000 doctors and nurses. The first PFI hospitals contained some 28 per cent fewer beds than the ones they replaced. And we all now know the long-term impact of PFI on crippling running costs.

          NHS Primary Care Trusts were given the target of sourcing at least 15% of primary care from the private or voluntary sectors over the medium term. And under Labour the NHS were required to take on pro-active socially “directive” policies, for example, in respect of smoking and obesity as if there were not enough taxpayer subsidised or funded NGOs and fake charities already doing that.

          • dalai guevara

            Yes, absolutely. No one is suggesting that there is a *left/right* option to any extent in British politics nowadays.
            We really need to get away from the mindset that the setting up of the French National Assembly in 1789 was in any way relevant today.

            • Colonel Mustard

              It’s a left/left option that’s the problem.

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        or re-election of the Ghastly Party?

        • adam_01

          Such a cheap shot and most of the above too.

          This is about whether or not too much PR is bad for a party when putting out poorly costed or worked-out statements. In this instance yes. The question is then what do the public made of the alternatives. Are UKIP still riding a wave of EU resentment, are the Cons in play when it comes to keeping the taxed classes (most workers) afloat and are Labour simply too insulting to those on high earnings and too generous to benefit claimants? Which media reports are twisting the outcome as polls come in?

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