Ukip have not ruled out their charismatic leader Nigel Farage contesting Eastleigh should a by-election be called at short notice.
There has been much speculation in the press over the weekend after Conservative party chair Baroness Warsi said the conservatives had targeted the seat and that she believed Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne – soon to be tried on charges of perverting the course of justice – could stand down even if he is not found guilty.
“I think we would fight it (Eastleigh) hard and we would fight it to win. I don’t think the Lib Dems are dug in there. It’s winnable. We will do everything we can to win it.
“The by-election could be called because Chris might stand down irrespective of what happens at the court case”
It was also reported that the Conservatives had flooded the area with up to 2000 activists for a campaigning weekend.
But a source close to the Ukip’s leader told Eastleigh News:
“Ukip have a very strong branch in Eastleigh and Nigel has stood in Eastleigh previously. It wouldn’t be entirely out of the question for him to stand here again”
In 2005 the conservative candidate for Eastleigh Conor Burn lost to Chris Huhne by just 500 votes – a result Burn attributes to disaffected Tories splitting the conservative vote by trurning to Ukip. (see here)
In the last general Election the popular Ukip leader polled 8,500 votes in Buckingham after a 14% surge in support for Ukip due to the ’Farage Factor’ a result which would be fatal to Conservative aspirations if repeated in Eastleigh and would almost certainly return another Lib Dem candidate.
Nigel Farage seems to favour high profile election campaigns which give a platform for Ukip to publicise their euro-sceptic message regardless of whether the seat is winnable or not.
Mr Farage who currently represents the area as an MEP, has often said he has a soft spot for Eastleigh as he contested his first election here in 1997 – also a by-election.
A spokesman for Ukip Eastleigh branch said:
“No decision has been taken regarding a possible parliamentary candidate yet”
Last year Chris Huhne compared Baroness Warsi unfavourably to Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebebles.
Photo by Dweller