Eastleigh by-election liveblog

28th February, 2013 9:56 pm

03.24: You’re probably all asleep now (or you should be) as I’m wrapping up the liveblog for tonight. I’m off to write up what this by-election means now (which I’ll be posting in a few hours, along with a short interview from tonight with John O’Farrell).

Thanks for sticking with the liveblog for what was certainly an…eventful…evening. Goodnight (and here’s the final result):

Mike Thornton (LD) 13,342 (32.06%, -14.48%)

Diane James (UKIP) 11,571 (27.80%, +24.20%)

Maria Hutchings (C) 10,559 (25.37%, -13.96%)

John O’Farrell (Lab) 4,088 (9.82%, +0.22%)

Danny Stupple (Ind) 768 (1.85%, +1.56%)

Dr Iain Maclennan (NHA) 392 (0.94%)

Ray Hall (Beer) 235 (0.56%)

Kevin Milburn (Christian) 163 (0.39%)

Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 136 (0.33%)

Jim Duggan (Peace) 128 (0.31%)

David Bishop (Elvis) 72 (0.17%)

Michael Walters (Eng Dem) 70 (0.17%, -0.30%)

Daz Procter (TUSC) 62 (0.15%)

Colin Bex (Wessex Reg) 30 (0.07%)

02.47: Absolutely bizarre scenes at the end of the night as Maria Hutchings is bundled out of the count by Tory bouncers who were tryong to keep her away from the media. A huge photographer scrum ensued (below). New MP Mike Thornton was left standing on his own on the stage with just a single photographer for company….


02.36: The Loony Party candidate is singing Mac The Knife

02.34: All of the candidates are getting a speech, but they’re getting diminshing returns, as the hall is being packed up!

02.32: There’s barely a Tory left in the hall now….

02.20: Not a single cheer for the Tory total. They are distraught…

02.18: Looks like Labour got 4088- that’s 9.8%. Up 0.2%

02.11: Moments from a result now…

02.03: You all think I’m playing for time right now, because there’s no news from Eastleigh, right? Well that’s true. Alas, we called the result ages ago and were (perhaps) the first to do so. BUt I do have (non Eastleigh) news for political anoraks. And if you’re reading this…you’re an anorak. So…

Labour won a council by-election in Wirral West tonight – a marginal held by Tory Minister Esther McVey. The ward (Penby) was won by Labour with a majority of nearly 600 votes. Nice to see we won something tonight…

01.55: Twitter and an amusing number of texts suggest that I’ve been glaring at Nigel Farage and Diane James the UKIP candidate. Not intentionally, dear friends. But what can I say? I have a face that can’t hide its emotions…02.00: I’m definitely coming to more by-election counts in future…the aimless milling about is far more fun in real life than it is on TV…

01.50: Not much of a cheers for Maria Hutchings when she came is was there? I just spotted a Tory press officer having to stop her from giving a TV interview. Both she and the Tory campaign staff look exhausted…

01.38: The Lib Dems sat behind me at the count are talking about how important it is to bombarb people with multiple leaflets even if it annoys them. Their campaign strategy – same as it ever was…

1.34: And now O’Farrell is here. Loud and well organised cheers from the Labour supporters. Here’s a slightly trippy pic I managed to get:


1.23: Cheer’s for UKIP’s candidate nearly as loud as those for the Lib Dem (is it bad that I can’t remember the new MP’s name? Mike something…).

1.21: I will save the blushes of the senior Lib Dem who said to me, in reference to their candidate being a bit less exciting than they might be “You can’t always Lembit Opik’s all of the time”

1.18: There was a brief corex board war there between the Lib Dems and UKIP – won convincingly by the Lib Dems. Their candidate is in the hall now and they know they’ve won this. The Tories look inconsolable.

00.58: I have wrested my seat back from Neil Hamilton…

00.32: John Denham is here for Labour. Tim Farron is here for the Lib Dems. But I haven’t seen a single senior Tory here so far…

00.28: Official turnout is 52.8%

00.25: Bloody hell, Neil Hamilton is here, and I’ve just lost my seat to him. Never thought I’d say that…

00.22: Things are still a bit quiet, but the Tories don’t look very happy – what do you think?


00.12: Ok, so we’re now at the point when every party has completed the “sampling” process. And based on what we’re hearing, Labour expect the Lib Dems to win, with UKIP second. Now that’s only based on the sampling – I can’t stress that enough. But Labour’s sampling for by-elections has been good in the past. Although until the turnout figure is released (which is happening now, I think) we won’t really know how accurate the sampling is.

00.10: This liveblog started in February, it’s now March…

00.06: Some spectacular hyperbole from Tim Farron here – he says if the Lib Dems win (even on a coin toss) would be an unspeakable triumph. You’ve got to admire chutzpah like that…

23.55: Just had a very interesting chat with a few people from UKIP, who seem to think Labour’s vote has held up better and that’s squeezing the Lib Dems. Now if they are right AND Labour are right that the Lib Dems are only just ahead of the Tories – could the unthinkable happen and UKIP win the seat? Surely not…but 1-2-3 may be close run things.

23.53: Just went away for a quick wander and picked up a few interesting things on the floor of the hall…

23.38: A very credible Labour source tells me that UKIP could be as little as 2% behind the Lib Dems….

23.30: John Denham is up soon on 5live. He is of course the MP for Southampton ITCHEN not TEST (see 23.04)

23.22: It’s not just the Tories who need to take the UKIP vote seriously – all parties need to. But it’s clearly not just about individual policies, it’s also due to a quite accurate sense that politics and politicians are too distant from the lives of ordinary people. There’s anger in the country, for whatever reason UKIP seem to be channeling a great deal of that.

23.16: Tory Jo-Anne Nadler just said on 5live that there would be no way of spinning a Tory 3rd place. That’s right, but to be honest, that shouldn’t obscure the fact that coming 2nd would be pretty hard for Cameron to spin.

23.04: Lib Dem Evan Harris quite fairly brought up Labour’s 2nd place in the 1994 Eastleigh by-election on 5live a few moments ago. It’s not an accurate comparison with tonight though – because the seat boundaries have changed (many Labour voters in that seat are now in John Denham’s Southampton Test seat. There are other reasons, but that’s by far the most significant.

23.03: Brace yourselves for a looooong night. We’re hearing the result might not be announced until 4am

22.59: The other guests on 5live are unsurprisingly trying to dump on Labour – obviously we need to win in the South, but Labour’s route to government will need to go through places like Thurrock and Reading…not Eastleigh…

22.54: There’s a real quandry for all Tories if the UKIP vote has surged here and cost them the seat. The Tory Right can’t argue in favour of UKIP-lite candidates, as Maria Hutchings is exactly such a candidate. But Cameron has still – presumably – lost a seat that’s on his target seat list…

22.46: As I said on 5live a moment ago – the only party with the real smiles on their faces tonight are UKIP. Their supporters think they’re going to see something special tonight.

22.40: As well as liveblogging tonight, I’m also on the Stephen Nolan show on 5live. You can listen by clicking here.

22.37: Want to keep canvassers away from your doorstep? One Eastleigh voter had a unique “loony” method:


22.33: Interestingly, the foodbank in Eastleigh was closed last week. They ran out of food…

22.18: We’re unlikely to have much information in the next half an hour, so here’s some things I’ve learned while I’ve been in Eastleigh today…

22.16: That said, the Tories came 5th in Rotherham and 4th in Middlesbrough and no-one batted an eyelid…

22.10: A couple of weeks ago I mused on the idea that Labour could cause an “upset” on the South Coast. For me, that wouldn’t have been winning the seat – that was never on the cards, but I hoped the party might achieve a strong third place or perhaps even squeak second. But any such optimism soon drifted away as soon as it became clear that Labour were facing an almighty 2 way squeeze (and eventually, a 3 way squeeze). 4th will be a disappointment though.

22.04: The percentage of the vote that Labour got in 2010 was 9.6%. So anything over and above that will have seen an increase in the Labour vote (but that’s only small consolation if the party come 4th).

21.58: Call this a hunch, but I’m pretty sure Labour are going to be coming 4th in Eastleigh this evening. The feeling in the counting hall is that the Lib Dems are going to hold onto the seat, but the real interest is likely to be who comes second. It’s probably going to be the Tories – but it could be UKIP…watch this space….

21.55: And to erm….reward…those of you who are here early – here’s a photo of the counting hall:


21.50: Evening everyone. As usual for by-election results there’s a LabourList liveblog. You didn’t think we’d miss this one did you? And as a special treat, I’m live at the count this evening. As well as liveblogging all of the latest news from the count, I’ll also be appearing on the Stephen Nolan show intermittently between 10.30pm and 1pm.

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  • rekrab

    I wonder what the turn out will be? and how many votes are lost rather than gained, who picked up voters and who lost voters.

  • rekrab

    I’ve just looked at a stat, that said there was 256 job vacancies in Eastleigh in Jan 2013, that rose to 918 in Feb 2013, I think by tomorrow that will fall to the first level without post being filled.And raises a more pertinent point, is there some type of jiggery pokery going on at the DWP?

  • Brumanuensis

    Short Easleigh summary ahead of the result (assuming Lib Dem win):

    -Nick Clegg will get a short-term boost that will be rapidly swallowed up if the Rennard scandal continues to develop unfavourably.

    -Right-wing Conservative backbenchers will get irked with Cameron, on the grounds that they’re still not in a position to improve their showing at the next election.

    -Labour will be disappointed at not doing better, but will argue – with reason – that as Mark points out, Easleigh isn’t the sort of seat Labour will ever win.

    -The Lib Dems will have an improvement in morale, but their underlying position won’t have changed.

    -UKIP will gain a significant moral victory if they finish second, but the long-term repercussions are likely limited.

  • Brumanuensis

    Anthony Wells, of YouGov:

    “Anyway, let’s assume the results are as the polls suggest – that the Liberal Democrats narrowly hold the seat over the Conservatives, UKIP do extremely well and Labour get squeezed down to fourth place. Journalists will write comment pieces concluding that the Lib Dems will do much better than the polls suggest as they’ll still be able to get tactical support from Labour, that UKIP pose a serious threat to the Conservatives and that UKIP voters DON’T seem willing to vote tactically for the Tories and, for the Conservative leaning amongst them, that the poor Labour performance shows that Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” mantra is just empty words.

    All of these conclusions are nonsense.

    Or at least, while some of them may very well be true, none of them will be things we can tell from Eastleigh. Firstly, if it votes in line with the polls Eastleigh doesn’t really show the Lib Dems withstanding the national swing in seats they hold. In the final Ashcroft poll they were down 14 points on their general election score, which is pretty much what the polls show is happening to their national support. Secondly, I wouldn’t conclude anything about tactical voting either Lab to LD or UKIP to Con – by-elections are very special cases, voters get an intense amount of literature and contact from the parties imploring them to vote tactically and send a message, and their vote won’t change who governs so in many ways people are free to vote without consequence. The argument about Labour’s one nation message is just point scoring – it is perfectly normal for a third party to be squeezed in a tight by-election and despite the exuberance of some Labour supporters at the start of the campaign it was bleeding bloody obvious from the beginning that Labour had no hope whatsoever in this seat”.

    • rekrab

      I think David Davis was told the other day on TV that the European Union won’t change because Cameron’s government wants them to.Is it possible that UKIP becomes larger than the fringe movement of old conservatism that squeezes the lib/dem out and forms the one nation conservative agenda 2015?

      • Brumanuensis

        Certainly a UKIP second place could be corrosive to the internal stability of the Coalition, as it puts pressure on the Conservative right flank.

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  • rekrab


  • “Libdems only just ahead of the tories”…..I thought you said that Labour source said libdems only 2% ahead of UKIP?

    • Brumanuensis

      The Guardian report that the Labour camp think the Lib Dems are just ahead of UKIP, with the Conservatives third and Labour fourth, albeit with an increase in their vote.

      How accurate this is remains to be seen.

  • “…..but the Tories don’t look very happy – what do you think?” I think this is something that had better get used to.

  • Brumanuensis

    The Guardian are reporting that turnout was 52.8%,ftr.

  • rekrab

    52.8% feck! must have been a high postal vote? a tale of two Eastleigh’s, I’m reminded of the airport comic films and the pilots names, over, under and done. who got which?

  • Strong UKIP showing will only further the Tory infighting. Delightful to watch.

  • $3436249

    I’m glad you got Neil Hamilton’s seat. Did you feel like Martin Bell?

  • postageincluded

    If I were you , Mark, I wouldn’t let Neil Hamilton anywhere near my seat.

  • rekrab

    Getting reports that the lib/dems are confident of a 2,000 plus majority! I’d reckon there pasting that to the returned postal vote,I’m getting the notion of some serious misplay in that area? given the normal route of voting doesn’t seem to follow any of that pattern.

  • rekrab

    Well, Well, some rumors circulating that lib/dem activist were helping to fill in postal votes at pensioners and disabilities peoples doorstep. An illegal move.

  • Brumanuensis

    Wessex Regionalists – 30 votes

    Elvis Loves Pets – 72 votes

    Peace Party – 128 votes

    Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party – 235 votes

    Monster Raving Loony Party – 136 votes

    Conservative – 10,559 votes

    UKIP – 11,571 votes

    NHS Action – 392 votes

    Christian Party – 163 votes

    Labour – 4,088 votes

    TUSC – 62 votes

    Independent (Stupple) – 678 votes

    Lib Dem 13,342

    English Democrats – 70 votes

    90 spoiled ballots

    • Brumanuensis

      Turnout of 42,649.

      Labour vote percentage is 9.58%, so no change from General Election. Disappointing, but not surprising given the way the campaign panned out.

      Conservatives got 24.76% (-14.5%)

      UKIP got 27.13% (+23.5%)

      Lib Dems got 31.28% ( -15%)

    • AlanGiles

      “Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party – 235 votes”
      Well, at least Lord Rennard (allegedly) and David Blunkett went out to vote! 🙂

  • So if Farage had gone full Galloway he’d be an MP now.

    Having canvassed there last week and seen their literature UKIP ran a very clearly racist and xenophobic campaign so this is a really disturbing result.

    Now this is more a political problem the Tories who may end up being hoist on the anti-immigration petard created by their own press overlords – but do we really want to win because a right and far right party may split the bigot vote?

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

    • postageincluded

      No, but, at a pinch, it’ll do.

  • rekrab

    I make the lib/dem and tory vote has reduced by almost half of what it was in 2010. although turnout wasn’t as high.Massive swing towards UKIP though.

  • Chuka Umunna repeating for the umpteenth time that we’ve got loads of people in place on the ground – or something like that. it’s listening to swill like that which Umunna no doubt feels obliged to spout that always persuaded me that standing for election wouldn’t be that much fun.

  • postageincluded

    I think the best consolation for us here is that the Labour vote held up against a ferocious squeeze for protest or tactical votes.

    “The Loony Party candidate is singing Mac The Knife”. Ha! Lyrics by Bertholdt Brecht – obviously a CP entryist. TTFN, Mark, and thanks.

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  • AlanGiles

    0340 1/3/13: So it looks as if it will be David Cameron will be the half of the Coalition double act who will now be feeling the pressure. Nick Clegg lives to fight another day. UKIP will feel emboldened by beating the, admittedly dreadful, Tory candidate. Best draw a veil over the rest of the results, EXCEPT perhaps to say this wasn’t the best place for the NHA to make their debut – I guess most of Eastleigh’s residents are with BUPA anyway, I feel they will probably do better in Stafford, and I rather think they might have a fair chance in Havering, considering our main hospital is forever in the news, and not for good reasons, but it is at bursting point, with hundreds of new homes currently being built and the other nearest hospital always under threat of closure. I am sure tonights results in no way are indicative of their future.

    An interesting evening.

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  • Monkey_Bach

    With the constituency’s former MP Chris Huhne currently facing a custodial sentence for perverting the course of justice and the Liberal Democrat Party scoring single digits (or not much above) in every political poll for some time, if a Liberal Democrat candidate can end up elected as Eastleigh’s new MP with the Conservative candidate coming THIRD behind UKIP what does that say about the Tory’s chances at the next general election?

    The tide is going out on Cameron. Can somebody please ask the ridiculous arch-Tory MP Peter Bone what his lady wife Mrs. Bone thinks about this sorry state of affairs?


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  • markfergusonuk

    Indeed I did. Tatton all over again

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