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Voting well underway in three way fight

February 28, 2013
By

 

Voting is well underway in the Eastleigh by-election and weeks of crouching behind the sofa and slaloming politicians and their minions in the town centre is soon to come to an end. In  a few hours we should know who the successor is to disgraced Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne.

This evening bookies still have Lib Dem as odds on favourite. The price is so short at Belfair as to indicate an 85% probability however close behind are the conservatives and sensationally Ukip. In fact all bookies now have Ukip a second favourite as Labour look out of the running at 100/1 and another bookmaker Paddy Power has even had the National Health Action party breathing down Labour’s neck at 80/1.

Ukip has finished second in its last two by-elections and the feeling among Ukippers is they could even win.

Local independent Danny Stupple comes in next at 200/1 and the best of the rest being fought between majority party TUSC, the Peace Party and the English Democrats leaving the rest of the filed fighting it out to avoid last place

Last night at an Ukip press conference Nigel Farage declared that the Polls had been flawed and had underestimated the surge of support towards Ukip whose own soundings indicated a victory for Dianne James was on the cards.

A smiling  Dianne James told reporters that people were approaching activists on the street to pledge support.

On local activist told me that the office had dealt with an unprecedented 1400 membership enquiries in the least two weeks. Last week former Mayor Glyn Davies-Dear and ex lib Dem councillor Andy Moore both signed up and while the press conference was underway two students walked in off the street to sign.

A winning Smile?

A winning Smile?

Dianne James has uncompromising views on immigration and controversy over remarks she has regarding Romanian criminality and estimates of future Bulgarian immigration running into the millions have gained her widespread publicity.

Her performance at the at the 38 Degrees hustings this week provoked the strongest reaction from the crowd alternately drawing gasps, boo’s and cheer’s – and even a couple of shouts of ‘racist’ – after she claimed that crime was linked to East European  immigration and that ‘foreigners’ were pushing British people to the back of the queue.

James seems to have an ability to dramatically polarise an audience’s views on immigration enthusing some while enraging others.

I spoke to a voter after the hustings, Glen who said he found James remarks ‘very worrying’ as he is married to a Romanian and his children are half Romanian. He told me he accepted there was a need for immigration controls – his problem was with the rhetoric – which he thought could cause resentment towards his family. He told me the family had moved to Eastleigh from Essex because he thought it was a tolerant place

“The community is a tolerant community and I resent the fact that she has come from outside the county and if she continues to use language like that she will stir up people’s feelings”

Glen told me he was so worried that if Ms James won he would consider moving away.

At the press conference I was able to ask Dianne James for a reaction to Glen’s concerns:

“Ukip doesn’t hate the Eu we have no intention of giving a whole load of people who are already here the’ red card’. What we are saying is enough is enough and we do need a really well controlled system we need process and procedure and we need a god UK border agency a with necessary control to make entry to this country  a level playing field.”

Despite the Ukip surge Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton is still odds on with bookies to win. It is impossible to find anyone with a bad word to say about Thornton (and the national pres have tried -they certainly rang Eastleigh News up) but questions have been raised about his suitability as an MP. He lacks the gravitas Charisma and silky public speaking skills of former MP Chris Huhne.

Huhne had a practised ‘power smile’ he could turn on when required Thornton can only at best raise a grimace

Thornton’s performance on the hustings has been at best variable sometimes appearing nervous and vague,at times even bumbling.

He has been described as ‘Ordinary’,’ boring’, ‘voice like a speaking clock’ and a photo of him at council meeting with his eyes apparently closed appeared in the press.

I luv you

I luv you

Thornton appeared a trifle overawed by meeting the Party Leader Nick Clegg at the Ageas Bowl and seemed mesmerised like he couldn’t believe this was  happening to him.

You know how it is – you go to bed a borough councillor then when you wake you have been handed a £65k pa safe seat and are now rubbing shoulders with the deputy Prime minister!

Despite the unfavorable comparison with Chris  Huhne many voters (this one included) grew tired of Mr. Huhne’s PR antics and yearned for someone  a bit more ordinary and unexciting but also honest and hardworking.

Mike has indicated he believes party conference is where policy should be debated and he in Parliament he would vote on party lines – he even said he would vote in favour of same sex marriage although it conflicted with these beliefs as a Christian.

It’s clear from the polls that voters haven’t been put off by the Huhne case or the allegations surrounding Lord Rennard and are still prepared to back Lib Dems for as long as they get low council tax. Huhne was right to think he could get re-elected and there have been suggestions that Thornton could be just a seat warmer till 2015 in anticipation of the return of a rehabilitated an rejuvenated Mr Huhne.

Interestingly while Maria Hutchings and John O’Farrell both turned down invitations to attack Chris Huhne and local Lib Dem leader Keith House even defended the former MP.

It was Lib Dem Mike Thornton who angrily called on Huhne to apologise to the people of Eastleigh while he was appearing on the Radio 5 debate.

For most of the election Thornton’s closest challenger has been Conservative Maria Hutchings.

Maria’s campaign launch with Grant Shapps

Hutchings previously contested the seat in 2010 when she increased the Tory vote. A search through Eastleigh News will show she has been active in many local issues lining up with politicians of all shades to oppose development on green spaces. She has also championed a number of other local good causes firmly embedding herself in the community.

Although she may have wanted to campaign on her track record as a local campaigner on local issues things went awry early on as the National media made it clear their audience weren’t interested in reading about Boorley Green or Leigh Road rec.

No sooner had her launch started, Five minutes and 50 yards in it struck an iceberg in the form of C4  political journalist Michel Crick, the personal nemesis of Council Leader Keith House. Crick tackled her not about land at Woodhouse Lane – but about Gay Marriage and …House of Lords reform!

Having successfully dealt with that worse was to follow minutes later she was cornered in Poppins Cafe and asked to account for remarks made in 2005 over immigrants and asylum seekers.

Under pressure in Poppins

Hutchings campaign was being run by central office and it would appear – although denied – that someone took a decision to shield her from hostile reporting or possibly it was decided that her  biggest asset – plain speaking – was a liability. After that she was left to hover in the background while a serious off big gun speakers the PM, the Chancellor, Boris fielded the ‘difficult’ questions. She failed to appear at two hustings which only fuelled stories she was being tightly controlled.

In the community hustings she did appear in she had to use time to defend herself  over another quote in which she appeared to slate state education and she also took time to clobber Mike Thornton over his support for the local plan while claiming to defend greenspaces.

The last hustings she appeared at ended in uproar with lots of shouting from all sides as she simultaneously went for Mike Thornton over Woodhouse Lane while trying to deflect hecklers in the audience who were demanding to know where she would place housing.

All of this will make little difference to her core supporters who adore her, or the supporters of causes she has helped who will probably return the favour.

Both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have a large core support so things could be as tight as they were in 2005 when only 500 votes separated the winner but with a surge in support for Ukip we could see the seat transformed into a three way marginal.

I am of course discounting Labour who are so far back in the polls and the bookies affections that a win does not seem likely.

John O’Farrell is a capable candidate, an articulate and intelligent man who has provided the belly laughs in this campaign with his quips. The resources Labour has poured into the town is unprecedented for them but they were always going to have to come from a distant third anyway and the publication of some tasteless comments O’Farrell had made previously, many years ago, over the Brighton Bombing and the Falkland Islands damaged his chances in a town where there is still a deep vein of working class patriotism which Ukip have exploited to Labours cost. I happened to be in Eastleigh when O’Farrell and his placard waving entourage swept past to shouts of ‘Traitor’ from one passerby.

O’Farrell has identified  the problems Eastleigh faces as national issues over falling standards of living  and he says only Labour   has the policies that could fix them but it is local issues that have dominated the hustings  leading O’Farrell to brand the contest a ‘faux council election’.

The party have flooded the town with activists – 50 MPs visited yesterday – but all the feedback from polls suggest they are in a tussle for third place with Ukip or the Tories.

 Labored(s)

It was expected that Labour would benefit from the 2o,00 odd labour swing voters who won it for Huhne in 2010 swinging back, but it seems a lot of those votes – judging from the people I have spoken to – have been hoovered up by Ukip.

A socialist alternative to Labour is provided by the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition Candidate Daz Proctor. TUSC claim they are a majority party as they are backed by 80,000 RMT union members and because they represent the 99%.

Their problem has been getting the message out to t he 99%.Seafarer  Daz was unavailable for campaigning until six days ago as he was away at sea and a public meeting that was called by TUSC on Tuesday clashed with a hustings.

Daz has been realistic about his chances but sees this as a chance to establish them in Eastleigh. If the Labour vote collapses tonight and they are pushed as predicted into fourth they may abandon the town where already many of the poorest – their natural constituency – do not vote.

Socialists(s)

TUSC say they are the only party who are totally opposed to cuts believing public spending on welfare and services can be funded through tax justice measures – forcing corporations like Starbucks to pay their fair share and by scrapping Trident.

The National Health Action Party have a local candidate in Dr Iain MacLennan – the party is opposed to the privatisation of the NHS which they see as the single most important issue facing the UK.

They blame the dismantling of the health service to neglect by all the major parties and are bound to pick up support from Health workers who may have otherwise voted Labour.

Danny Stupple is a local fair Oak businessman from Fair Oak standing as an independent. He promises to bring a ‘local voice to the national stage’. A devout Christian his main reason for standing is to protest at the proposal to introduce legislation for same sex marriage – which he says is unchristian and undemocratic. He says his main motivation is his love of Eastleigh.

He is well known in his local community as a governor of Wyvern School and through his involvement in community projects like the basics bank and is expected to finish well ahead of other minority candidates – perhaps a seat on the Parish Council beckons?

The English Democrats are also looking to improve on their 2010 showing with Micheal Walter. The believe that the English have been discriminated against and wan ta devolved English Parliament, free prescriptions and university education as is enjoyed by citizens of Scotland and Wales.

Colin Bex of the Wessex regionalists has been conducting a one man campaign for the introduction of a system of local government based on the ancient Wessex regions. He proposes a number of fiscal measures including an end to fiat currency. Unfortunately at Hustings – lack of time has prevented him from expanding on his idea for monetary reform and those interested could do well to invest in some time with him down the pub ;)

Eastleigh News will be tweeting live from the Count from 10 pm!


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23 Responses to Voting well underway in three way fight

  1. renard on February 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    “It is impossible to find anyone with a bad word to say about Thornton . . . ”

    Who are you kidding? There have been ample adverse comments, here, in the Daily Echo and elsewhere, especially about his hypocrisy in perpetually claiming that he and his fellow Lib Dems are protecting the countryside and green fields. In fact, Thornton voted for the Local Plan, which entails the destruction of much green countryside, and his Lib Dems have just voted for major development on fields and countryside at Boorley Green, Pylands Lane etc.
    Part of their Local Plan was to build a massive estate on prime agricultural land northwards from Woodhouse Lane, Botley. This was only stopped when, for the umpteenth time, the landowner reminded them that it is not for sale – otherwise, we would have seen Botley, Hedge End, Boorley Green and Fair Oak linked as one massive sprawl, thanks to the “green field protecting” Lib Dems.
    Let’s hope the voters put someone honest into Parliament!

    • Eastleigh Xpress on February 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      TBH I was thinking more in terms of personality rather than voting record. As I have indicated his voting record suggests he will tow the party line no matter what.
      But journalists hoping to unearth some salacious morsel have gone away empty handed. If the fact that he was caught resting his eyelids during a planning meeting is the best the Daily Mail can come up with – and its hardly a hanging offence – then you know there aren’t any skeletons in the cupboard.
      For the record I’ve found him to be a pleasant and amiable guy.

    • Stuart Jebbitt on February 28, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      If Thornton wins, the real battle starts. We all need to make it plain that these development plans are unacceptable and people off all political persuasions need to unite and pull resources to fight the wanton destruction of our countryside in the name of profit. Housing lists are a bogus excuse as only a small percentage will be affordable housing for local people. Don’t be hoodwinked!

  2. rigel on February 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Colin Bex is a supporter of positive money – which is a campaign for monetary reform and a very good website to visit for people who think governments create too much money http://www.positivemoney.org

  3. rigel on February 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Its gutting, if you combined UKIP and Tory votes the fib dems would lose , neither even took them on on local policy , Thornton is a blank canvas that they hung the persona on, perhaps there will be a tranche of disappointed tories and Ukips and we can get an opposition going

  4. Ian Webber on February 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    SAY NO TO IMMIGRANTS, EUROPE AND QUEER MARRIAGE. VOTE UKIP. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.

    • rigel on February 28, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      not too keen on those policies ,all irrelevant to our situation , also would be keen on God letting the Queen drown with the rest of us BUT Ian Webber would you like to help create an effective opposition against the lib dems in Eastleigh ? ……

  5. John Edwards on February 28, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    The English Democrats may not win here, but nationally, we have recieved many enquiries about membership and our policies. Onwards and upwards.

  6. Pete Stewart on March 1, 2013 at 6:30 am

    So! Despite all my warnings on these pages, that voting Conservative was a wasted vote, they still went ahead and did it – at least 10,000 of them.

    Had just a few thousand conservatives had the courage to vote according to their conservative principles, they would have voted UKIP and kept out the LibDems.

    Now look what’s happened! By voting Conservative, they’ve split the UKIP vote and let in the very LibDems they pretend to want to keep out.

    I reiterate: True Conservatives should vote UKIP and stop supporting the party which calls itself “conservative” but from all the evidence, is blatantly ANTI-CONSERVATIVE!

    Wake up you true conservatives! Start the revolt here in Eastleigh!

    • David Knowles on March 1, 2013 at 11:51 am

      There you are Peter.Just as I said.You and Ukip have enabled a pro European to represent us at Westminster.Splitting the Ukip vote?You,yes you are the ones that have split the anti Europe vote.I wouldn’t be suprised to hear in the near future that Ukip is in the pay of the Fibdems.Your party will never form a goverment and are bad for the anti Europe cause!.

      • Pete Stewart on March 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm

        David –

        You are wrong (by definition).

        Because UKIP got more votes that the Cons it was the Cons who split UKIP’s vote.

        This is a BAD OMEN for the Cons.

        I predict they will lose the 2015 general election.

        • David Knowles on March 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm

          And if that is because of Ukip taking votes away from the Conservatives we will end up with a Labour or Fibdem goverment.Both who are Pro Europe.Ukip will never be able to form a goverment, so your stupid party will tie us even closer to the wretched EU.I think you are in the pay of the Fib dems and the pro Europeans,

          • rigel on March 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

            both UKIP and Conservatives have let down the people of Eastleigh not because of a similar or dissimilar policy towards europe but because of other policies.

            Neither of you had any policies that attracted the 50% of people who didn’t vote , the lib dems were there for the taking, they spent 100,000s, they had every Councillor and MP working their ass off but only got 16% of the electorate to vote for them.

            and neither of you could give an inch to the young people , it’s the 21st century , we should be on the moon not arguing about Bulgarians .

            Only when you two can find common ground can we beat them.

  7. rigel on March 1, 2013 at 7:08 am

    thanks for sending Mike Thornton to Westminster Pete , I’m looking forward to meeting 4million Bulgarians , the reason I voted Conservative was that your candidate was devoid of humanity and most of your supporters are dim witted thugs.

    • Pete Stewart on March 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Rigel. Don’t thank me, thank those who voted Conservative.
      They split the UKIP vote as I predicted.

      I’m looking forward to meeting more Bulgarians, if only to practice my Bulgarian, which I am assured is pronounced remarkably accurately (but then it would be, because I have been taught by a Bulgarian)!

      QUESTION
      As for your last comment about Diane being devoid of humanity and most of her voters being stupid, violent criminals, are you sure that is what you meant to say on these pages, about an electorate which one day you may wish to invite to vote for you?

      • rigel on March 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        I said supporters not voters , lots of smart nice people voted for UKIP I know – the supporters I know , which is few I admit,and you seem quite nice, all have a unipolar belief that all our problems are caused by ‘europe’ – thus they are dim , because we have been part of europe for 1000’s of years . Diane James had an opportunity at the hustings to add a codicil to her immigration stance -eg- all these Bulgarians are very nice I’m sure but….she didn’t, she played it up, she neither showed respect nor humanity

        What did you think of the vibe in that room Pete ? did you think the ‘thuggish’ element helped , did you feel the anger, many are upset at their declining standards of living , well it’s going to get worse and we need to get the right enemy in our sights.

        saying all that I’m sorry if I offended anyone , and I may be completely wrong.

        • Pete STewart on March 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm

          Hi Rigel –

          11,571 Eastleigh people supported Diane by voting for her. I was one of them.

          I am (technically) an Asian immigrant, and can claim both Cypriot and Turkish nationality. I was invited to live here by the people of Britain.

          I’ve lived here for so many decades, I’ve come to feel Britain is “my” country and I deeply resent any elected government opening our borders to a mass immigration of cheap EU labour.

          The British people have NEVER been asked if they wanted their borders opened to the EU. What do you think their answer would be if they were asked? Actually, I think they’ve just begun to answer, by voting UKIP.

          As for the word “thug”, it is certainly not one I would apply to anyone unless they were prone to habitual acts of violence or crime (as per the dictionary definition). I’m sure you didn’t mean to abuse the word, so no apology needed (but thanks anyway).

          There was indeed anger in the room, but most of it was switched on for the cameras!

          I doubt anyone thought there was a “thuggish” element. Had there been, I trust they would have been promptly ejected or arrested.

  8. Matthew Myatt on March 2, 2013 at 3:11 am

    Well, the votes are now counted and one thing is clear. Despite the finger pointing and the different views of many, Eastleigh people want the FibDems to be their voice in Westminster. But who are these voters and what does it say about Eastleigh as a town when its population are attracted to a party that will lie, cheat and do just about anything to hold onto power in the town?

    Sadly this by-election was not about Eastleigh and its people. I am sure that both Maria and Mike, who are local residents, entered into the fight with the interests of Eastleigh at heart but were then managed by two men having a willy contest in Westminster. Maria could be seen to be very upset at the count, not because she had lost but because she had not been able to fight for the seat in the way that she had been in the past five years, with the interests of the towns people, as the real fight, on local issues. She was clearly exhausted and clearly dejected by her campaign team and the way her campaign was run. As for Mike, who most of the time looked like a rabbit caught in car headlights, I am sure that for not one minute did he enter this fight with the belief he could win. He had been selected as the PPC because he was expendable to the party. If the FibDems believed they could have won this seat at the start of the by-election they would have selected Keith House to go to Westminster..

    There have been no real winners in Eastleigh. No, the real winners of this by-election have been the printers in Portsmouth, Southend, Newcastle and London, who have all made vast amounts of money printing leaflets for local candidates who have all talked about protecting LOCAL jobs but have sent local work away from local businesses.

    Of course the irony of the winning candidate is that he stood on a ticket of ‘Protecting Green Spaces’, and claims to be ‘Tackling Climate Change’, yet his party alone printed over 7.38 tons of leaflets, had them shipped from around the country on lorries to get here and not one single sheet of it was printed on recycled paper.

    Now that’s what I call pulling the wool over peoples eyes.!!

    • David Knowles on March 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Keith House as an MP?I have heard from several sources that Keith House,a few years ago,stated his intension to stand for Parliament.But,he was a guest on a political program and said something he realised he shouldn’t have said.In desperation he asked the presenter of the show to stop the recording and start again.Problem was,it was a live broadcast!
      Keith House is a buffoon.Did anyone see him on the Sunday Politics today.Dressed in a White suit with a bright orange shirt.And this Clown is the leader of our Council!

      • Matthew Myatt on March 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm
        • David Knowles on March 4, 2013 at 10:38 pm

          I don’t know Matthew as I was told about this by several members of Eastleigh Conservatives.I was led to believe it was in a studio.So,either way ,the man is a Buffoon.

          • renard on March 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm

            And the tragedy is that this buffoon is the leader of our council!
            Everyone should watch that video clip to gain the measure of this man’s intellect.

  9. Stuart Jebbitt on March 2, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Matthew. They got 35% of a 53% turnout. The mathematics shows us that the vast majority of the population Eastleigh DON’T support the lib dems. The trouble is all that opposition is either fragmented or apathetic. Very frustrating. Ironically the archaic voting system that used to hamper the liberals, is now their biggest ally as regards Eastleigh.
    I found the last 2 weeks very stressful as I felt under siege! And the number of leaflets was obscene, and let’s not start on all ten duplicitous lies within those leaflets…

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