Author John O’Farrell throws his hat into the ring for Eastleigh selection

February 9, 2013 4:24 pm

The deadline for submitting applications to be Labour’s candidate for Eastleigh has passed – and there has been a surprise addition to the list of potential Labour candidates in the guise of author and broadcaster John O’Farrell.

Perhaps best known – in Labour circles at least – for his seminal book “Things can only get better” about the party’s years in the wildernes, O Farrell tweeted his intention to seek the Labour candidacy this afternoon, saying:

Ed Miliband needs someone in Eastleigh with a track record of winning elections. Despite this I’m going to offer myself as Labour candidate.

— John O’Farrell (@mrjohnofarrell) February 9, 2013

Sincerely believe Labour could actually win in Eastleigh. All those people who voted LibDem tactically last time did so to keep Cameron out.

— John O’Farrell (@mrjohnofarrell) February 9, 2013

Interviews will take place on Monday to draw up the shortlist, with the selection meeting taking place in Eastleigh on Tuesday night. We’ll bring you news of both as soon as we have it. So far the only other declared candidate we’re aware of is local businessman Mark Latham, who sat on the fundraising committee for Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign in 2010.

 If you know anyone else who is standing – drop us an email (

  • Bob

    Go for it John – you’ll do a fantastic job.
    I still think we have a decent chance at actually winning this, and with John as the Labour candidate, even more so.

  • Elliot Bidgood

    Given our current focus on local & business candidates, Mark Latham sounds like perhaps a better bet. Can’t find much on him though, where was his announcement?

    • Daniel Speight

      Is there really that much of a focus on business candidates right now? Since Luke Bozier has moved on it seems that it’s just a few of the usual suspects that make such a big deal about it.

      • Elliot Bidgood

        An initiative was launched by Ed and Chuka Ummuna July year – alongside getting forces and working-class MPs, that would seem to make it a priority beyond just the Blairites. If anything, losing Bozier makes the scheme all the more neccesary, to repair the damage of losing people like him.,2012-07-17

        However, we have many other good potential candidates here. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Hampshire PCC candidate and some of the nearby Southampton councillors were under consideration too.

        • dave stone

          Bozier left Labour to join the Tories. Why not get a Tory to stand for Labour – that’ll help “to repair the damage of losing people like him”, surely?

          • aracataca

            Arguably, your worst comment yet.

          • dave stone

            Methinks I’m detecting a shiver of nervousness re Eastleigh…

            Even Denham couldn’t resist tweeting a senior Lib-Dem defection but wouldn’t admit it was a defection to National Health Action.

          • reformist lickspittle

            Nobody is “nervous” about Eastleigh, mate. The glorious thing about it is that it is a “shot to nothing” as they say in snooker – even a worst case scenario of coming 4th behind UKIP will soon be forgotten. Meanwhile, whichever coalition “partner” comes off worst will suffer real damage.

        • Daniel Speight

          I suspect that we were rather lucky losing Bozier before his dark secrets appeared, but maybe you feel different on this Elliot.

          • Elliot Bidgood

            While it allowed us to avoid the associational damage, people of all political persuations (including Labour officials) have fallen due to dark, unacceptable and criminal actions in their personal lives, so it’s irrelevant to the point I’m making. Professionally, Bozier was smart and did a lot of good work for the party. Betraying everything he had stood for by defecting to the Tories and running off into business with Mensch was inexcusable, and the party rightfully closed ranks against him after he left, but if entrepreneurial-minded voices are leaving us that’s something we should definitely be concerned about. Pushing back against the perception that we’re losing our hard-won reputation as a pro-business party is precisely what Ed & Chuka’s initiative is meant to be about.

          • Daniel Speight

            Well I guess the Bozier argument was one too easy for me to make although I find it fun making some of his friends just a little uncomfortable, and yes you are right his defection to the Tories was unforgivable. His personal life and problems are his unless the police decide to become involved.

            Still the argument is really about who the Labour Party really sets out to represent. Now for me the name of the party gives that away. That name represents the history and raison d’être for having a social democratic party. That doesn’t mean the party has to be anti-business, but it does suggest when there is clash in priorities the party should support the section of the population it is meant to represent.

            Now Elliot I have no idea of your own position or place in society, but in case you think it’s sour grapes on my behalf I should say I have been an entrepreneur since 1995 and involved in ecommerce and the internet for almost as long. Even so I do not think that Labour should set out to win the support of the likes of Richard Branson, or more like Bozier and myself, if that costs the party a deficit in what it should be doing for those it’s meant to represent. When there is common cause that’s great, but otherwise there really is no middle way.

            Having said that unless an entrepreneur feels that his options are increased by an austere Britain, he or she should probably support a Labour Party offering a more Keynesian approach to economic problems.

          • Chilbaldi

            Unhelpful to talk in black and white, employer versus employee terms. What is good for the corporate world can, on occasion, be good for the workforce.

          • Daniel Speight

            I think I said that Chilbaldi when I said this.

            When there is common cause that’s great, but otherwise there really is no middle way.

            Let’s take the present economic situation as an example. We should find much common ground with say, the construction industry corporations. We both would like to see growth injected into the economy by an increase in capital spending. At the same time while the corporations would like maximise their profits in doing so and maybe run a blacklist against union reps, we would like to see some limitations in profits, better safety and more union representation. Surely the PFI agreements point the stupidity in looking at it any other way.

            Sometimes looking for the Shades of Gray can get you in trouble – in fact you may end up getting a right spanking.

      • Elliot Bidgood

        An initiative was launched by Ed and Chuka Ummuna July year – alongside getting forces and working-class MPs, that would seem to make it a priority. If anything, losing Bozier makes the scheme all the more neccesary, to repair the damage of losing people like him.,2012-07-17

    • Mark Latham

      Hi, See my comment below

  • Thomas Messenger

    If John is selected, Labour’s chances of winning will greatly improve. He’s exactly the type of candidate we need in this area.

  • JC

    What happened to the focus on people outside the political elite? Where are the workers and ex-service people. Is experience outside politics irrelevant again?

  • Mark Latham

    Just back from a damp day in the puddles of Bishopstoke to find an email saying I’ve been ‘longlisted’ for Eastleigh so I’ll try and post a bio etc tomorrow. Check out @marklathamuk to see campaign pics, comments and people. Please come down and help.

  • ColinAdkins

    I hope the selection is based on the merits of the candidates. If John is selected I hope it was because he was the best candidate and not for his celebrity (albeit minor). Like a warped record I will be practising my belief in diversity by supporting anyone who didn’t go to Oxbridge.

    • Dave Postles

      Just to let you know that Essex now has a Regius Chair in Political Science in the Dept of Sociology – one of the 12 new Regius Chairs created for that Jubilee thingy. It’s an accolade for Essex sociology, despite the absurd association in the 21st century.

      • ColinAdkins

        Thanks Dave.

  • aracataca

    Correct lickspittle. ‘Leftist’ critics of Labour are trying to present the seat as one we ‘should’ win despite the fact that we’ve never won it and only got 10% of the vote in the GE of 2010. The narrative will then be presented that we lost because of Ed’s failings, the dominant influence of Progress, Blairism, Iraq, blah blah blah……..yawn.

    • dave stone

      “The narrative will then be presented that we lost ”

      There’s no need for such a negative perspective. Why not do something for the ordinary people of this country: step aside and let the National Health Action Party take centre stage in Eastleigh. Analysis indicates that there’s plenty of people in Eastleigh constituency who want to have a pop at coalition members but won’t vote Labour. It’s the perfect solution. And, after all, you’ve more or less admitted that Labour won’t win.

      It’s worth remembering that, come 2015, when NHA go into action in 50 carefully chosen seats, currently held by big guns of the NHS privatisation brigade, Labour will undoubtedly be able to derive considerable benefit from any prominence achieved by the NHA beforehand. Well, that’s the party political tactical aspect.

      But, most importantly of all, this election should be about saving the NHS. As Clare Gerada, Chair Royal College GPs has said: “Wake up. Your NHS is disappearing. Care will never again be according to need but ability to pay”

      Do you want to join us in the fight to save what could accurately be described as the most precious of Labour’s crown jewels?

      • aracataca

        As someone who was recently diagnosed with skin cancer I had to wait 6 months for the carcinoma to be removed during which time it doubled in size necessitating a skin graft on my face. The local hospital has been fully privatised and the CEO of the company that runs the hospital – Circle- gave a big fat donation to the Tory Party.I know first hand what is going on in the NHS but the only party capable of making any real changes to it are Labour as they are the only realistic alternative government to the current shower running the country.

  • David Brede

    Its already had an impact by raising Labour campaign. Well done to Maria Eagle for getting an interview on BBC News tonight. This is not a 2 horse race!


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