Candidate says: Labour can win here
A local Labour candidate has predicted that the disgruntled labour voters who swung to the liberal democrats in 2010 will return to the party fold in the forthcoming by-election.
James Penders who is standing for Labour in the Eastleigh West division in Mays Ccounty Council elections reacted to news of Mr Huhne’s resignation by tweeting that it was a great day for Eastleigh.
@eastleigh_news great day for the rule of Law. A great day for Eastleigh. A great day to start a Campaign. A cloudlifted over Eastleigh.
— James Penders (@JPenders4West) February 4, 2013
In the 2010 General Election Labour’s share of the vote in Eastleigh slumped by 11% to its lowest level ever as traditional Labour supporters swung to the Lib Dems after Huhne managed to convince them that it was Nick Clegg’s new social progressive policies that now matched their aspirations not Labour.
This was aided by the high profile defection to the Lib Dem camp of Labour’s original PPC Dan Clarke – no w a Lib Dem Councillor.
At the time Dan wrote an eloquent piece on an influential blog on his reasons for leaving Labour which must have resonated with labour supporters. Lib Dem leaflets stressed to Labour supporters that voting Labour would only help David Cameron but only days after being elected Chris Huhne helped David Cameron form a coalition.
James Penders told Eastleigh News:
“The Labour Party has been poor in its local opposition recently even though Eastleigh wards have been former Labour strongholds
“In 2010 people felt they needed a change after 13 years of a Labour government. They have tried that for three years and don’t like it.
“People are angry that their vote was abused – they voted for one thing and got something else.”
Penders has criticised the ruling Conservatives on Hampshire Council for cut backs in what he describes as ‘grassroots services’ like Surestart childrens centres and care homes.
Cuts in council staff hours, he added has impacted on family incomes and is depressing the local economy as well as causing hardship.
I asked where cuts would be made if Labour ran Hampshire County Council and Penders said he would favour a cut in the budget for leisure and he thought that expenditure on capital projects like road building could be trimmed to protect essential services.
Penders faces a stiff task in Eastleigh West as the last time the party ended up bottom of the heap, fourth behind Ukip.
I point out there is currently only one Labour councillor on HCC – what could one Labour voice possibly achieve?
“It’s better for working people to have one voice than no voice” he retorted.
The by-election will be used as a barometer for the state of the parties nationally, so unlike the General Election in 2010, the Labour Party is expected to put considerable resources into the campaign.
Penders insisted that this time round the necessary means will be in place to run a strong campaign in both the County and the by-election. ‘Fresh blood’ has been recruited and they can now call on the help and experience of their Southampton City Council colleagues.
“Five years ago Southampton Labour Party was in a similar situation but they turned it around. A good showing this year will also provide a base for next year’s borough elections”
“We are going to show people: Labour can win here”