Coffee House

Labour’s Eastleigh by-election fight

10 February 2013

The Eastleigh by-election machine is well and truly up and running this weekend, with ministers starting to make their way down to the Hampshire constituency to start campaigning.

The focus is on the two coalition parties who have now both chosen their candidates, but it’s also interesting to see what Labour’s up to in the constituency. Labour came second in the 1994 by-election, but as the graph below shows, the party then embarked on a slide which saw it poll third in the four subsequent elections.


What’s interesting, though, is that though the party hasn’t yet announced its candidate, it’s had a stall down in the town for two weeks already, when there wasn’t even a by-election on the cards until last Monday. Mind you, though the Conservatives weren’t active in the constituency until the day Huhne resigned, I understand a group from CCHQ paid a visit to Eastleigh nine months ago to scope it out in case there was a by-election.

As James points out in his Mail on Sunday column, the Tories need Labour to put up a good fight because of its ability to take votes away from the Lib Dems. Lord Ashcroft’s poll, published at the end of last week, found Ed Miliband’s party had gained nine points to 19 per cent since the 2010 election (as had UKIP, up nine points to 13 per cent).

The fight will include references to ‘trust’, as in their campaign posters, but while the Conservatives don’t plan to make explicit references to Huhne in their campaign, they may well be helped by the conclusion of Vicky Pryce’s trial and the subsequent sentencing of the former Energy Secretary, which could well coincide with polling day. But the emphasis will be on Maria Hutchings as a local candidate: something that’s important when the Liberal Democrats already enjoy local prominence in the council.

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  • foxoles

    Don’t think the news of Labour’s candidate being smug, sanctimonious Labour luvvie John O’Farrell (with Polly Toynbee’s backing) will improve Labour’s chances much.

  • alexsandr

    Mebbe the frankly unsafe meat coming from other EU members will be another help to UKIP. UK should look to its own people to look after our food safety, not subcontract it to foreigners.
    The sorry tale of meat going from one pawn to the next in the processed food industry should surely make everyones hair stand on end.

    Except for those who buy from a proper butcher who can prove the provenance of his produce.

    • David Lindsay

      UKIP is sitting out this election by not running its only member. As my source on the ground puts it: “You are right about Farage, massive vote of no confidence, well known in the South East that he lives full time in Brussels and hardly ever leaves the place.”

      • telemachus

        The bull eyed frog will not live down the Cameron-Merkel budget settlement.
        He is keeping his powder dry for the Romania-Bulgaria fight.

      • The Red Bladder

        You never know UKIP might just pull the electoral shock of the decade out of the hat and save their deposit!

    • jack mustard

      It’s a mark of how bad the Tories have gotten – they used to export rotten meat to the world, now they have to import it.

      • David Lindsay

        Including from somewhere that used to be part of the United Kingdom.

        How are the mighty fallen.

    • Daniel Maris

      I knew someone who worked for a “proper butcher”. He used to pass off ordinary beef steak as Aberdeen Angus…”None in today, but we’ll have some in on Tuesday” was his clever line.

      Unless you personally kill the animal with your own bare hands, you’re at their mercy!

      • thom cross

        I will not eat Hot Dogs!! Even if given one free during the by-election!

        • telemachus

          I’m told that there will be an EU edict today to cull London foxes for hot dogs
          Boris is supporting it

    • telemachus

      Forget meat and UKIP.
      Labour may well be pushing the revanchist Tories and come in second here.
      The Ashcroft constituency poll has Labour in 3rd place – over 10 points behind either the Tories or the Lib Dems. That said, labour’s vote is up 9 points on 2010 and when likelihood to vote is removed from the equation, Labour’s vote goes up to 23%.

      All of this is happening before Labour selects a candidate. But something is happening on the ground. I’m told that dozens of party activists (and several who aren’t party members) have been heading to Labour’s Eastleigh HQ since Huhne resigned on Monday. There have been large teams of canvassers led by John Denham out and about in the constituency.

      • Colonel Mustard

        And yet you once told us here that you are not a member of the Labour party.

        • telemachus

          Neither are we

  • NT86

    Labour should consider that a good showing would be anywhere near the 20% mark of votes. It’s a seat even Blair in 97 didn’t win, and it certainly isn’t one of those Tory/Labour marginals elsewhere in the country.

    The main reason for Labour polling well nationally is simply because of the coalition being so woeful. Look closer and Labour have NO policy whatsoever. It happens all the time when a party previously in government finds itself in opposition.

    A UKIP victory would be nice. The Conservatives are traitors so it’s only right for them to send shockwaves in this by election.

    • AnotherDaveB

      Labour gote 20% in 2001 and 2005, so that would just be a return to the norm.

      With the rise of UKIP, and the decline of both LD and Conservative support Labour should be aiming to escape their 20% band, and push towards 25% or 30%.

      • Fergus Pickering

        In your dreams, friend.

  • Barbara Stevens

    We may see the electorate making a statement here, some may call it a protest vote, others may say its people fed up with the status quo. Either way the people of this constiuancy have been badly let down by the previous LIb Dem member. Do they really want to put salt into their own wounds; I think with hindsight a complete change would be better, and certainly not Labour. Perhaps it will be between the Conservatives and UKIP, and all votes going to either one, leaving the rest by the way. If they’ve any sense and committment to this country they will do so, leaving a real message for the likes of Clegg and Miliband, the latter far to overly confident. The public vote is a humiity test for all, and a ready recknor for those who assume they will win.

  • Radford_NG

    The collapse in 1994 came about due to Majors unpopularity and the Conservative MP having died in strange circumstances [or been murdered by sinister forces,as some have it].In 2010 Maria Hutchings may likely have won if it were not for alienated Labour voters supporting the L/Ds. Labour this time is going to be fighting for third place against UKIP [and to kill an old claim,a vote for UKIP isn’t a vote for Lib Dem/Labour:the alternative to voting UKIP is not to vote; or to vote informal (Australian for spoiling the ballot paper) ].

  • jack mustard

    The Labour campaign should offer the voters an opportunity to proclaim, “a plague on both your houses.”

    • Fergus Pickering

      A plague on both your houses, so let’s have this house instead. This is the house that gave you the War in Iraq and the hospital in Staffordshire and a bankrupt Britain. That’s the house we want.

      • David Lindsay

        That[‘s what happens when you let the Murdoch, Mail and Telegraph papers bully you into implementing Hard Right policies despite those policies’ advocates having lost the preceding General Elections. Everyone blames the Tories, really. And they are right. That wasn’t really the proper Labour Party. It was something of which David Cameron, not Ed Miliband, is the successor and the continuation.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Ah, Mr Lindsay, I remember that one. Staln wasn’t true communism, neither was Mao, True communism hasn’t ever been tried. Substitute Socialism or the Labour Party at will. For us simple souls, if it says on te tin that it’s Labour, then it’s L:abour..It was Blair wot won those elections, wasn’t it? And he wasn’t disowned while he was winning, was he?

      • jack mustard

        As opposed to the coalition house of semi-permanent recession, under-employment and child poverty?

  • Field Marshal

    If the good people of Eastleigh are stupid enough to vote for the party that gives us serially dishonest ministers they will do our Graet Nation a disservice.

    I saw this on Indian corruption:-

    “Those whose value system is intrinsically weak become corrupt when they face
    pressures either from their own people or political bosses. This happens on a
    significant scale and faster if, at the same time, the moral fibre of society
    and the administrative system is also getting hollowed out and the chances of
    getting away with it keep improving.”

    Our Society has not sunk to this-or are we just seeing vengeance of a scorned woman playing out.

  • dansmith17

    John Denham, is pushing hard in Labour for a strategy of “third place first”, he is pushing that they can not be a national government again unless they win seats in the South and South West where they have fallen to third place.

    Eastleigh will be a perfect opportunity to play out the theory, if they win it is a shocking and wonderful victory for them, and if they lose no one expected them to win anyway.
    But to the real political junkies they will also be interested in the numbers, Labour getting back to 25% or even reaching 30% means all the Souther seats that went red in 1997 become viable again.

    If they did not win in 1997 they are not going to win, but Milliband can not affoard to only get 10%.

    The Lib Dems may well use local organisation to hang on, they have every local councillor on both District and County Council and they will have known that Hune was going to change his plea so will have plans in place hence the rapid date of the election. They will have a good GOTV operation.

    • David Lindsay

      Labour has long enjoyed a commanding poll lead, but it came third or below in 211 constituencies in 2010, mostly places where it always does, and in most of those pretty distantly. However, the Coalition has changed the weather. The SNP will also be finished for at least a generation after the loss of the independence referendum in 2014. If Labour does not win Eastleigh, then imagine a formation which was fully aware that someone needed to keep it on track or else stand ready to replace it.

      Properly organised and sufficiently funded, such a formation could expect to win in 2015 about one third of those seats, i.e., around 70. That would be enough to make a very significant difference indeed, even to hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament. But it could only happen if the unions, most obviously, stumped up the cash. And it could only happen if Labour, with little realistic hope of winning those seats, stood aside in that formation’s favour.

      That formation could and should also fill a very British gap, for a party anchoring the Left while engaging fully in the battle of ideas at every level of cultural life and of the education system, while refusing to consign or to confine demotic culture to “the enormous condescension of posterity”, and while co-ordinating broad-based and inclusive campaigns for human rights and civil liberties, for peace (including nuclear,
      radiological, chemical and biological disarmament, and including against the arms trade), for environmental responsibility, and for the defence and extension of jobs, services and amenities.

      And that in a country in which fewer than one in four people identified as working-class this time last year, but, after a further 12 months of the present Government, three out a five do so now. This Parliament still has a year and a half of further such growth to go.

    • AnotherDaveB

      “If they did not win in 1997 they are not going to win”

      The Conservatives and LDs are both at a low ebb nationally, and UKIP’s rise to 13%/16% (Eastleigh polls) shakes up the mix.

  • yarnesfromhorsham

    Perhaps the only good that will come out of this is if the Tory party gets a good thrashing – prompting DC to think about his future and what policies appeal to the voters, Nothing like the prospect of a one term PM to clear the mind,

    • David Lindsay

      The descendants of Richard III’s illegitimate offspring include David Cameron. No jokes, please, about only lasting two and half years, or about being overthrown in favour of absolutely anyone, or about having to wait nearly five centuries before books start to appear saying that perhaps he might not have been quite so bad after all.

      • HooksLaw

        You go from bad to beelding worse

    • HooksLaw

      Policies like offering and EU referendum after renegotiating terms.
      Or would you rather put that in the hands of a Europhile Labour Party.

      • David Lindsay

        Let’s see Cameron’s catastrophic Budget deal put to a Commons, and we’ll see which party is which on the EU.

    • Seasurfer1

      Yes this Marriage issue is rankling tory rank and file. Bad timing some would say but then Cameron did not have to do it.

      • huktra

        I have just been wallowing in the introduction of Carina to Vicky by Chris.
        Darling this is Carina- do not worry she is a lesbian and has a stable partner.
        You see if they had got gay marriage through sooner Eastleigh might not have been necessary.

      • Fergus Pickering

        A politician does not HAVE to do anything. Cameron chose to do it. And this was a good time. By 2015 it will be part of the landscape. Don’t forget, may ‘true’ conservatives don’t like civil partnerships either. Indeed they don’t like gays full stop and wish it wasn’t legal. They won’t admit this last, but in their old withered souls they wish it.

  • David Lindsay

    A lot of people think that UKIP is going to do well. Obviously, Nigel Farage doesn’t.

    I was told last night that certain other people were beginning to think that they really could do it. As the First Past The Post on a by-election turnout in the present utterly extraordinary circumstances, they really could return a Labour MP. Writes a correspondent:

    “John Denham’s all-member email appeal for volunteers to be PPC only closes tonight. But he has already been out today in the constituency with buses and buses full of people, not all of them party members.

    This has energised our whole subculture, you could say, in the Deep South. We are throwing the kitchen sink at it. The Tories, the Lib Dems and Ukip all expect us to run a paper campaign, we are not going to.”

    • David B

      What colour is the rose tint

      • David Lindsay


        • David B

          So you don’t see the blood spilt by the last government management of the NHS!

          • David Lindsay

            What, by implementing Tory policies because of the screaming from the right-wing cartel media that purport to be this country’s “free press”? Hardly! The Tories are lucky that this story has gone away within a couple of days. Everyone blames them, really. And rightly so.

            • David B

              So after 13 years of labour government and millions spent its all the fault of Mrs T and the Nasty Tory party. This is what is fundamentally wrong with the left. It is never its fault, some right wing conspiracy caused it. The Labour Party needs to start recognising the errors in policy and learning from them or it will repeat the mistakes if we are ever unlucky enough to have them in power again

              • David Lindsay

                It was only implementing Tory, and especially Thatcherite, policies, for fear of being screamed off by the Conservative Party’s newspaper cartel and its (foreign-owned) television monopoly. It was wrong to be so cowed. But that was the reason why it was. As the electorate understands perfectly well. The same goes, most obviously, for the Iraq War and for the financial crisis. On both of those scores, even the Daily Mail now blames the Tories, and rightly so.

                • David B

                  This is the most frightening post I have seen! How you pass buck is an appalling rewrite of history. I do suspect the electorate are not as stupid as you think. The Labour Party scrapped the Major governments NHS reform as soon as it came to power and implemented their target based agenda. As for Iraqi war, who wrote the dossia!

                  Simply put Labour are responsible for policies when they were in power if they are as weak as you claim then the party should be closed now

                • David Lindsay

                  It’s a different party now. In that sense, the closing down for which you call has already happened. The party that it is now has an unassailable poll lead and a string of election results to back it up. No one doubts that it is going to be in office for a generation beginning in 2015.

                  You know that I am right. Had the previous Government implemented Labour policies on the NHS, or the City, or George Bush’s foreign policy adventures, to name but a few, then the attack dogs would have been unleashed by Rupert Murdoch, by no means only in newspapers that he officially owns, since he does not have competitors, he has wannabes.

                  Hence the problems in relation to the NHS, the City, and George Bush’s foreign policy adventures, to name but a few. But Labour is a different party now. The party that it is now has an unassailable poll lead and a string of election results to back it up. No one doubts that it is going to be in office for a generation beginning in 2015.

                • David B

                  Same old Labour same old faces same old policies will lead to same old disasters

                • David Lindsay

                  But they are not the same old any of those things, at least not if by “same old Labour” by mean the Blair Government. You must be thinking of,as it turns out, the Coalition, although it would always been the case of any Government led by David Cameron.

                • David B

                  This is the same old Brown agenda. Oppose for sake of opposition, same old tax, borrow and spend on expanding public sector, same old media strategy and most importantly the same old faces making policy suggestions that will lead to the same old boom and bust

                • David Lindsay

                  No one is listening anymore, you know? Frankly, after two and half years of the alternative, people are quite nostalgic for Gordon Brown. At least he was better than this. In fact, viewed soberly rather in the midst of the pro-Cameron media hysteria of his Premiership, he was rather good.

                • wycombewanderer

                  Who is nostalgic for Brown?

                  Even the labour party have airbrushed him out of history.

                  What exactly can Denham say to the people of Eastleigh ‘hang on another year or two and we’ll come with a policy or two!

                • David B

                  In the words of Frank Carson – “that’s a cracker!” But now we are going to return to reality and you can stay in your own made up world.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Good at saving the world, eh? Good at signing our rights away in Brussels when he hoped nobody was looking? That good.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Same faces on the front bench. The only thing different are the protestations that they are not New Labour, when in fact they really are. Only when Harmon, Balls, Cooper and Burnham go will I ever believe they are any different.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  All that might be true only if the current Labour front bench – who were part of the old New Labour front bench – did not boast of their successes from 1997 to 2010.

                  But your post perfectly illustrates the mind set that obstinately believes it can do no wrong and that everyone else can do no right. I hope people mark it and understand just what a Labour vote really means.

            • Colonel Mustard

              The proposition that Blair, Brown and their fellow travellers – not split then but very much united in triumphalism and the surge for cultural revolution and with a weighty majority in parliament – were held back for 13 years by fear of the media is laughable. But it is very typical of the way Labour seek to re-write everything on their terms.

              The fact that Labour boasted about the reduction in waiting times, of pumping funding into the NHS, of “saving” it during their 13 years is now hastily abandoned and you expect us to believe Mid-Staffs was all the Tories fault? I didn’t notice that cunning sub-plot in Boyle’s eulogy!

              And if the Tories had really been implicated then this story would never have gone away. Come on David this nonsense is unworthy of you.

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