I wrote most of what I had to say about Eastleigh on Tuesday night: by elections are very unusual events and you can’t tell anything about public opinion from them that you couldn’t get a much better handle upon from national polling. It won’t stop acres of press being written about it today! Suffice to say, the result in Eastleigh does not show the Lib Dems retaining their support in their own seats (their drop in support was completely in line with national polling), it does not necessarily show anything about patterns and extent of tactical voting (since this is a by-election and they are extremely unusual in terms of campaign intensity and having no direct impact on who actually governs), it does not necessarily show Labour face problems in the south (it’s perfectly normal for a party with no hope of winning to see its support squeezed in a by-election), it does to some extent confirm growing UKIP support… but we knew about that from national polling anyway.

Equally, as I said yesterday, this doesn’t mean the result is unimportant or irrelevant, quite the opposite. A victory for the Lib Dems is vital good news for Clegg and the Lib Dems will hope it helps them move on from the Rennard crisis. There was speculation prior to the by-election that losing it on top of the Rennard scandal would put Clegg’s leadership in peril… now we shall never know. For the Conservatives it is much worse news in terms of the morale of the Parliamentary party. Fractious already, we now have to see if they hold it together or go into complete panic. For UKIP it is obviously terrific news, building into a narrative of growing support – expect to see another round of good publicity possibly translating into increased support in the polls.

And on the subject of the polls, the final polls by Lord Ashcroft and Populus were pretty accurate in terms of Con, Lab and Lib Dem support… but significantly underestimated UKIP support. As ever it is possible that people simply changed their minds between fieldwork and poling day, especially since momentum did appear to be with UKIP, but as I said when the Populus poll was published I am less than convinced about the utility of reallocating dont knows in by-election polls. There is good evidence that people still saying don’t know on the eve of a general election are disproportionately likely to end up backing the party they did last time, but I’m not certain we can assume that the same applies in by-elections. Certainly in this case the Populus and Ashcroft polls were both more accurate before don’t knows were reallocated.


383 Responses to “A few thoughts on Eastleigh”

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  1. I think that’s a very good analysis Anthony.

  2. Encouraging result for the Conservatives in Eastleigh. All they need is for:

    – a quarter of the UKIP vote to “come home” at a general election, which doesn’t seem outlandish; or for

    – the additional turnout that a general election would attract to be predominantly Tory. This is probably the case: those who only drag themselves out of bed to elect an actual government would probably back the main parties in their constituency, and the strong local LibDem machine was much closer to maxing out its potential turnout yesterday.

    So, still a little work still to do perhaps, but a very promising result for them, steady as she goes (winky smiley).

  3. @BARNABY MARDER

    teachers pet.

    :)

    I was going to say that. It’s important to look at today’s YouGov poll which shows things staying the same, maybe a little increase for Labour and small decrease for the Tories over the last few weeks. Nothing major.

    In past byelections Labour has seen its vote squeezed by the LibDems, for the T oriels this is something new on this scale.

  4. A terrible result for Cameron. Not because of the LD hold which as I said weeks ago was always on the cards – Lab leaning voters were always going to hold their nose to keep the LD in.

    By far the greater concern will be UKIP’s performance which because of the FPTP system has the potential to devastate the Tories in 2015 and conversely hand Labour a landslide victory with less than 40% of the popular vote.

    I think we can safely say now that the next Government will be Labour, and thoughts already turn to what the Opposition is going to look like. Post Eastleigh there must be a strong likelihood now that Johnson will lead them at 2020 and possibly 2015.

  5. A good result for the LDs (any win is a good result), a solid result for a Tory candidate who was feared to be too right-wing and a very good result for UKIP. To me that adds up to confident Lib Dems pulling left…ish and scared Tories pulling right. The victory that destroyed the Coalition?

  6. As I said on a previous thread the narrative is far more important than the facts. The press had set the narrative as Labour could not win early in the campaign, maybe this was true but almost certainly led to a tactical squeeze. The narrative set now is very important and that does not look good for the Tories, because this is the kind of seat they need to win to have a majority (a very tall order anyway) and people won’t look at the nuances of it being a unique bye-election but extrapolate to an election. This could make DCs position shakey. It could also of course threaten the coalition.

  7. Whilst it’s fair to say this by-election doesn’t tell us everything, it’s a false logic to argue that the Lib Dems vote falling in line with national polling proves anything about national polling. The Labour vote did not rise in line with national polling, and the UKIp vote rose vastly in excess of national polls.

    If it was simply a case of the Lib Dem – Tory swing being virtually zero and the Labour vote remaining nowhere, it would have been excellent news for the Lib Dems and great sign they’d probably keep most of their seats. With such a strong UKIP showing, it becomes a lot harder to predict where they stand in a general election. But to infer that it’s proof that the opinion polls are sacred and it’s going to be a uniform swing doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny.

  8. Not the best result for Labour, I’m sure they would have liked an improvement in their vote. I can only imagine what they gained by LibDem dissatisfied voters, they lost to UKIP.

    Awful results for the tories. What must they do to stop UKIP decimating them at the next election. A narrow loss would have been fine, but third…

    UKIP, well. Happy as Larry no doubt. Best result of any party after a win.

    LibDems. They’ll be happy they held a marginal, happy that they can take Tory/lib marginals and happy they didn’t lose. Basically…happy.

  9. Pretty much agree with Anthony’s analysis.

    Despite the loss of lib dem support it will bolster Cleggs position whilst its very grim for Cameron. An ineffective budget and a drubbing in the may elections could see the tories go into panic mode.

    Im wondering about lib dem strategy. Will Clegg and the Organge bookers start to openly pitch themselves as more of a moderate tory party – socially liberal but economically conservative? If UKIP pull the tories right it may open up space for them there as they’ve shot their bolt with any left of centre voters for the forsesable.

    I’ve always thought that Cameron and his fellow tory ‘reformers’ have more common ground with the orange book libs than they do with the the trad tories who would much rather the tory party was UKIP.

    Will UKIP force a realignment of the right in UK politics? It looks to me like the tories are going to get squeezed from both directions and – under FPTP – it puts makes another tory government a remote possibility.

    Normally parties gravitate towards the centre – but with the economic slump showing no end of abating and who knows what further crises to come the old politcal consensus looks – to many people – increasingly unfit for purpose.

  10. @ AW
    I agree with Barnaby, a very good summing up. Does the future hold a battle of coalitions? Lib/Lab vs Tory/UKIP.
    It looks to me, as if the two “parties of government”, can no longer win alone. Despite Labours good position in the current and recent polls, when push comes to shove in a GE, things could look very different.
    I cannot tell which is the most “delightful” prospect, Balls as chancellor, or Farage as minister for heaven knows what.

  11. Oddly enough I think this should worry the LibDems. They won but their vote like the Tories was down 13%, UKIP up 24%.

    If we divide the LibDem vote by three we get 1/3rd LibDem ( actual supporters), 1/3rd tactical ( anyone but them), and 1/3rd protest (none of the above).

    The LibDems win seats when they get all thrre but UKIP are now capable of doing damage in two out of three and that should worry the LibDems as much as the Tories.

    I’ve said for a long time that UKIP should target the LibDems as that is their best hope of a breakthrough. On Immigration and Europe UKIPs two main themes the LibDems are on the left.

    The other worry is that in an election the LibDems can’t throw this kind of resource at every seat, indeed if I was UKIP I would be asking the electoral commission to have a good hard look at how much the Libdems spent.

    It’s all very well to have a good database, but government has cost the LibDems a lot of money and activists.

    I think this is a bit of a Kursk moment. The Germans won the battle destroying far more Russian tanks than they lost, but the couldn’t replace the ones they lost and the Russians could.

    It was a victory but the writing was on the wall.

    Peter.

  12. “another round of good publicity”

    Do the rags that pass for newspapers in this country give anything else but good publicity to UKIP?

    If the Lib Dems under Ashdown had anything like this kind of level of media support, they’d have been in government a long time ago.

  13. “indeed if I was UKIP I would be asking the electoral commission to have a good hard look at how much the Libdems spent.”

    Isn’t there an unwritten pact that the political parties never query expenses?

  14. Congratulations to Colin and Neil A!

    Although not prepared to give a numerical prediction, they got the sequence of LD, UKIP, Con and Lab correct.

    They were both like five boys chocolate (google that you youngsters). It was Expectation (management), followed by ‘Realisation – on dear!’. Well done though. I was interested in how many of the pink crowd on here predicted a UKIP win. Clearly, the idea was preferable psychologically than a Con or LD win. I cannot think of any other explanation. I was way out on UKIP. I just did not think there would be such a mounting impulse vote as that, but it was so. UKIP would not have had time nor the canvass data to mount a decent polling operation.

    Any other correct entries I missed, having trawled back through the previous thread, apologies.

    I think this morning’s YG poll is more significant (if maintained) than Eastleigh.

    Nevertheless, my hat is off to the LD agent and helpers who must have been having kittens last week post RennardGate. Sheer graft is wot wun it. Our colleague Tony Dean knows what accolades must go to the agent and his workers.

  15. Didn’t I see a comment earlier suggesting I’d been drinking? Either it was modded, or I really have started too early.
    As for my upbeat interpretation of the result, as Noel Coward would say, don’t let’s be Eastleigh to the Tories.

  16. @Peter Cairns
    I have never heard Kursk described as a German (BBC speak, NAZI ) victory before, although I absolutely agree with your view about tanks and indeed men. However, perhaps Jutland would be a better example of a German tactical win and a British, massive strategic triumph.

  17. @Peter Cairns
    The amount of effort the Lib Dems put in, is as you say, unsustainable in a General Election. Their plan is to fight “57 by-elections”, and for Eastleigh they had activists in Scotland doing phone canvassing every evening, and some even going down to the south coast.

    From the guidance from the EC – There is a spending limit of £100,000 during the regulated period.

  18. Shevii – I think they are somewhat reluctant to open up each others cans of worms, but it happens. The complaint about expenses that briefly unseated Fiona Jones in Newark came from her Lib Dem opponent, for example.

  19. It’s a great victory for libs on the ground at local level. Well done again to them. I also agree with all the analysis from Anthony, which cannot be argued with. It’s bad new for the conservatives, and I am unsure where they go after already playing the trump referendum card.

  20. I think that had Farage stood, he may have won but of course we shall never know.
    I believe it is going to be difficult for Tories to gain more than a few seats from LibDems at GE.
    I can see LibDems holding seats in GE due to a split Con/UKIP vote.
    I expect UKIP to do remarkably well at Euro poll June14 but the bandwagon should be on the wane before GE.
    What we need in the next 2 years is a byelection in a Tory held seat where Lib dems are in second place.

  21. @ EDDIE
    I thought, ( though devastated by the result) that the great Dinah Washington had it about right. “What a difference an A makes”.

    Regarding being beastly to us Tories, (A) we are hardened and (B) the Glorious Labour Movement has very little to crow about in this result.

  22. Anthony – I did not know about Fiona Jones. Having read her story on Wikipedia, I shall feel very sad for the rest of the day. What an appalling sequence of events.

  23. As you say Anthony, few by-elections have any long term significance. Perhaps Darlington in 1983 will be remembered as the time the wind left the sails of the SDP/Lib alliance. On day one, we were streets ahead but day after day I watched the posters come down until we finished a poor third.

    After Richmond(N.Yorks) in 1989, some commentators said that had I squeezed a few more votes from the Libs and defeated W.Hague, it might have saved the go-it-alone SDP. I doubt it. What does look obvious now is that the group of young and highly talented SDP activists who moved to the Tories, convinced that they could change the party, have failed.

  24. Of the main political parties, the result is undoubtable the worse for the Conservatives. Whilst it is not unusual for a ruling party to fail to win mid-term by-elections, the big concern for them will be the swing to UKIP.

    There now appears to be a viable alternative for right/centre-right voters or indeeed the generally disaffected. This will be damaging to the Tory vote in 2015 and may well cause them problems in Con/Lab marginals

    Labour voters appear to vote more tactically in constituencies where their candidate has no hope of winning and this by-election bore this out.

    I’ve always had my doubts than Lib Dem seats in Parliament would collapse in 2015. I’ve always argued that their MPs are often strong locally and where marginals exist, they are usually against the Conservatives. Tactical voting by left-wing supporters seems more prevalent and they may well still continue to vote for the LibDems in 2015 in order to keep the right-wing candidate out.

    2015 will certainly be an interesting election!

  25. Word seemed to be out in the last few days in Eastleigh that the LibDems were going to win.

    That appeared to free up Con supporters and others to shift to UKIP.

    UKIP probably won on votes cast yesterday but the postals had stacked up for the Lib Dems.

  26. If we take away party affiliations “Lab voters” etc, and look at substantive concerns negative to the Tories – immigration, the recession, the coalition as such, and loss of middle road conservatism – the number of voters going to UKIP as a protest would explain Eastleigh, and could be sustained into the GE.
    A poll into why people voted for UKIP would be very interesting.

  27. My understanding is that UKIP scored about 4% at the general election. Given this low vote, the apportionment of don’t knows to them on the 50/50 rule must have been negligible. And given the fact that they were ‘surging’ this must surely have been an; element in the underestimation of their vote. Most probably this kind of argument would apply nationally as well. Perhaps, AW, Martyn, Roger Mexico, or some other statistical guru would like to suggest an appropriate model for allocating don’t knows in these circumstances.

  28. ‘(B) the Glorious Labour Movement has very little to crow about in this result.’

    Unless, of course, it indicates a strategic reverse for the tories with long-term impact.

    Not that the Labour movement ever crows, that is.

  29. We ought to be careful not to allow this to leverage up more anti-immigrant hysteria and general shifts in policy towards UKIP’s nonsensical postion of freedom for Brits but no one else.

    I believe polling shows that while people are ‘concerned’ about immigration, that doesn’t make them all ranting right-wingers wanting extreme measures. Indeed, so long as people try to fit in, according to polls, then there is no problem with immigrants in local communities. That’s certainly my experience, too.

    What needs to be remembered by our forgetful political class is that you cannot appease extremists by moving onto their ground. That only encourages them to be more extreme and shifts the whole balance of debate away from moderation and sense.

    Since we have an extremist party of the right doing well in elections – even if their views are still very minority – then perhaps it is time for a history refresher all round.

  30. More fame for AW!
    Andrew Sparrow in the Guardian extensively quotes your piece on Eastleigh and its lack of significance nationally. Of course it suits him to do so.

  31. The (fairly obvious) potential impact of the result is twofold:

    1. It establishes a narrative (whether justified or not) that UKIP are competitive and that a UKIP vote is not wasted. This will surely shore up the UKIP vote so that a general election drift back to the Tories is less likely.

    2. The Tories will be compelled to tack yet further to the right to counter the challenge from UKIP, losing more votes to LD/Lab. Alternatively, they will refuse to tack to the right, and the leak of votes to UKIP will continue. (Or, quite possibly, they will tack to the right while denying they are doing so, losing votes to UKIP because they claim not to be moving right, and losing votes to the centre on the basis of the effects of their policies.)

    A key aspect of right wing politics now is that there is a plausible (meant in the perjorative sense) place for the Tea-Party Tendency to go. And the thing about the Tea Party Tendency is that they value ideological purity above being in power (the corrollary of Militant and Socialist Organiser in the 80s). It’s that fanatical adherence to right wing beliefs that is Cmaeron’s problem. And I really don’t see a solution for him.

  32. Given the presence of UKIP – even if they only polled what they managed last time – could the Conservative campaign to save pure FPTP in the recent referendum prove to have been the single stupidest mistake in recent political history (and its up against a lot of competition from all the parties!)

    Talking of mistakes – your decision not to contest Eastleigh Mr Farage any second thoughts on that one?

  33. I’ve just read that Con put out Maria Hutchings leaflets in UKIP colours. If that idea was from the ‘brilliant’ Mr Crosby, then it’s time to get rid, I would have thought.

    I mean, logically, we already know that the id of candidates is not important with voters (see those polls -no more than third recognition for any of them) so the only effect of the above ripping wheeze was to give free publicity to UKIP – n’est-ce pas?

  34. MIKEMS
    perhaps it is time for a history refresher all round.

    As part of a political agenda more geared to a long-term and more inclusive democracy, beginning with redistributive fiscal policy and access to employment, and based on measures to provide for equal participation of minorities. This should not be seen as party political, but as the essential basis of the next fifty years of UK politics.
    Cometh the hour.

  35. I hope you are right Johh, but the game is still being played. Labour have just said they will support Trident, for example, and that’s a million miles away from the principles of an inclusive democracy. It’s a statement about maintaining the status quo.

  36. will UKIP win the next election: nope. Will Lib Dems win next election: nope. Both however have a huge impact on the two parties in England who can. If this by-election is taken in context of others and national polls a narrative really is developing: Tories are facing a terrible prospect, Labour a highly encouraging one. Namely between Lib Dem and UKIP the Tory scope for winning CON/Lib marginals is minimal. However, Lib are not squeezing Labour in Lab/Lib marginals. Lib are not chipping votes back from Labour. However, there is no evidence of Con gaining votes/seats from anyone.
    As others have said – a big Lab majority is theirs to lose. Libs won’t meltdown as their vote collapse will not be evenly spread. UKIP might well have an influence on Con policy. Cons in a big bad hole, which is increasingly difficult to see how they are going to escape.

  37. cheesewolf

    That’s been my reading for the last couple of years and results are bearing it out.

    Lots of people have told me (probably wisely) that mid term leads are meaningless and the incumbents will claw back votes, but so far all we are seeing is Lab at 40%, Con nowhere near and UKIP splitting their vote everywhere it matters.

    If it’s any consolation for Cameron, I believe they’ll retain Reigate where I live.

  38. I feel somewhat sorry for Maria Hutchings. She wasn’t really full supported by her leadership, who consistently sent an implicit message of lack of confidence in her. On some level I wonder if the Cameroon faction really wanted a Lib Dem hold. Given the compliance of the Lib Dems in coalition, it hardly made a difference to his control of the House. In fact, if anything, his own party have been the more rebellious. It would also have helped preserve coalition stability, the ground was being laid to blame the candidate, which, given her politics would have allowed him to score points against internal enemies.

    The UKIP surge, which they perhaps didn’t appreciate until too late, changed all that, giving them at least an appearance of momentum that could pose a real threat to the Conservatives. In addition the fact that the Labour vote was static in this seat, if not a firm indicator of future performance, at least represents a warning sign of potential serious trouble ahead in a class of seats that they desperately need to win.

    Eastleigh really should have been low hanging fruit for the Conservatives, given the circumstances, and the relatively modest 2010 majority. Another aspect of this is the fact that, as Anthony points out, the Lib Dem voteshare fell in line with national trends. They were only saved by the fact that the Conservatives did even worse. The implication of this- given that the Lib Dem collapse looks pretty fundamental, while the Tory vote is potentially more susceptible to changing circumstances, particularly economic- is that a recovery in Government fortunes could be the greatest future threat to the Lib Dems.

    I’m past giving firm prognostications on the behaviour of these people (at least temporarily) the actions having been so perverse over the recent past, but all of this could signal interesting times ahead in terms of Coalition stability.

  39. Almost sad the desperation ith which Tories are highlighting Labour’s 4th place and voting figures. The reality lies in the early polls, all of which showed a fairly healthy growth in VI.

    It therefore follows that those voters correctly saw that Lab had no chance of getting even close to winning and therefore, in a FPTP system, used their best judgement to vote in a the way that would most embarrass the tories, whilst at the same time hoping they might also contribute to a LD failure.

    In the event that worked pretty well and in the longer term will do great damage to the govt.

    It is no more compicated than that and says vitrually nothing about more serious Labour VI.

  40. Charles

    My understanding is that UKIP scored about 4% at the general election. Given this low vote, the apportionment of don’t knows to them on the 50/50 rule must have been negligible. And given the fact that they were ‘surging’ this must surely have been an; element in the underestimation of their vote. Most probably this kind of argument would apply nationally as well. Perhaps, AW, Martyn, Roger Mexico, or some other statistical guru would like to suggest an appropriate model for allocating don’t knows in these circumstances.

    Ummm, do nothing? As it happens 2010 UKIP voters seem the most loyal at the moment, so there wouldn’t be many Don’t knows to reallocate or not.

    But the real argument for is not reallocating any DKs in by-elections is that turnout is much lower in these than in general elections. Even in Eastleigh which had a high poll by modern standards[1], the turnout was only about three-quarters of that in the GE. So in those circumstances, most people who say they don’t know (or refuse to answer) will probably not vote rather than going back to their default position of last time.

    It’s worth pointing out that not all pollsters do reallocate and to some extent it’s a philosophical question – are you trying to gauge public opinion as it is now or as it would be if there was a general election now? Reallocation is to some extent trying to replicate the effect of a GE campaign.

    [1] The highest this Parliament – only Bradford West got anywhere near (50%)

  41. Just comparing the analysis of the by-election from Joey Jones on Sky with Norman Smith/Nick Robinson on BBC and hate to say that I felt Sky were better with their conclusions

    Smith seemed to take most of it at face value and was rather simplistic with his analysis without recognising the specifics of Eastleigh. Jones was much more for putting it into context and much clearer with the points he was making and covered a lot more of the things we have discuassed on here.

    I think sometimes the BBC struggles too much with ‘balance’ and by trying to balance up a feature they end up with poor analysis.

  42. Have heard said that Lib Dems feel they can now relax in southern seats as UKIP will do their job for them (by splitting Tory vote). This means they can concentrate fire power in the trickier (mainly) northern Lib/Lab marginals and three ways. Think a touch of realism needs to break out in LibDem stratgy team: there is very little to gain from such a strategy – they should be fighting hard in the South and West where Labour are weak. A split right is their only real chink of light. If they miss capitalising on that, they are doomed.
    The north is not coming back any time soon – with the exception of Farron’s seat. Burnley, Bradford, Rochdale, Leeds, Pendle etc etc. are out of reach. Eastleigh, Eastbourne etc… now that’s a different matter.

  43. I’ve remarked on here several times before over the last three years that immigration is a double-edged sword. Ditto to an extent for UK membership/withdrawal of the EU.

    DC and the Cons have been playing these cards for several years. And so it’s hardly surprising that their actions have created and unleashed the UKIPPER monster which may well destroy the Con party in its current form.

    This is a devastating result for DC and the Cons. DC was already in serous trouble with his party – this result will make it far more difficult for him to hold his party together and maintain the Coalition. In a way, NC’s hand has been strengthened so that he may well be encouraged to take a stronger line in the Quad and cabinet.

    More of DC’s party will now seem him as a ‘loser’. Many will be thinking a new leader is essential to enhance prospects at the next GE and open up dialogue with UKIP.

  44. @Hannah

    “On some level I wonder if the Cameroon faction really wanted a Lib Dem hold. ”

    It seems quite possible that Clegg/Cameron made a behind-the-scenes deal that the Tories wouldn’t try too hard, to make sure the LDs kept the seat. But as with everything else the Tories screwed that up badly, giving the opportunity for UKIP to come roaring up the inside.

    The ‘UKIP’ leaflet betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of by-election psychology. For undecided voters, an appreciable portion of what makes their mind up will be who appears to “deserve” their vote (as in, who has been working hard). A leaflet in UKIP colours is pretty much begging for a UKIP vote. Plus it acts as specific encouragement to UKIP voters to get out and vote.

    You gotta smile… :)

  45. MIKEMS
    ” Labour have just said they will support Trident, for example,”

    i am sure they’d love to chuck it, but, like their reaction to Cameron’s decision to take from the aid budget to finance military intervention to prop up fragile states: “Yes, well it’s right to have a balanced approach…” My assumption is that they do not want to frighten the horses. Internationally economic and security issues are so bound up with international commitments that a natural and evidence-based response to, for example, drugs production and marketing, and thus the organic ground for conflict in Afghanistan and of the presence and any defeat and expulsion of the Taliban, is dictated by US domestic drug policy. We can’t so it seems pretend to be Norway. Well, anyway, not yet.

  46. Lord Ashcroft has done an excellent post-Eastleigh poll which seems to answer most of the queries raised in this thread by posters
    @LordAshcroftpolls.com

  47. Eddie

    Encouraging result for the Conservatives in Eastleigh. All they need is for:

    – a quarter of the UKIP vote to “come home” at a general election, which doesn’t seem outlandish; or for

    – the additional turnout that a general election would attract to be predominantly Tory

    I’m not sure if you’re being entirely serious or not – though either way, you’re still doing a better job than Grant Shapps. But it’s worth pointing out the flaws in these arguments because they are fairly widespread.

    Firstly the idea that all UKIP voters are “really” Tories is as big a myth as the equivalent that all Lib Dems (or Greens) are “really” Labour. If you look at the UKIP vote in today’s YouGov (11%), you can calculate that only about 55% came from people who voted Conservative in 2010 – and this is a fairly constant figure. The rest are longstanding UKIP supporters, protest voters who chose Lib Dem last time, non-voters in 2010 etc. And remember that even that 55% may include UKIP supporters who voted tactically last time but are now very anti due to lack of a referendum etc. So the Conservatives can’t magically expect to “get back” all the UKIP vote because half of it wasn’t theirs in the first place.

    Secondly all the polls that were taken in Eastleigh showed that the “certainty to vote” of Tory voters was about as high than those of the other Parties (except UKIP). If you hear the excuse “Our people stayed home” it’s wrong because those are no longer your people -though they may be not be anyone else’s either yet.

  48. Why not pretend to be norway, we still got troops on the ground in afghanistan i believe. Norway is also a committed member of nato, sending bombers to libya during the fracas there, not sure if we are involved in mali but it wouldnt be surprising given the financial interests norway has in the neighboring states. Maybe you were thinking of neutral sweden

  49. Looks like the poll win has gone to their heads…Now Tim Farron is claiming they can win another 30 seats in 2015!

  50. Think people are getting far too carried away with looking at the Eastleigh result and trying to predict what might happen at a 2015 GE.

    It will be the budget in a few weeks time and perhaps Osborne will be able pull out a few rabbits from his hat, which will lead to a recovery in Tory polling. Probably not, as I don’t think he can do much, other than reveal further spending cuts.

    From what I can see, I have a feeling that the UK economy is going to go through another bad patch during 2013 and that any recovery in real growth will not happen until 3rd quarter 2014.

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