O’Farrell warns: “Don’t get fooled again”


Eastleigh Labour candidate John O’Farrell has warned Labour swing voters who helped Chris Huhne increase his majority in 2010 “Don’t get fooled again”

The scriptwriter and novelist had popped into Artisans Coffee house to have a chat with Eastleigh News about his campaign and seemed buoyed up by the sight of the bookies odds in Ladbrokes window across the street showing Labour’s odds had shortened to 8/1.

O Farrell is friendly – – confident, quick to put me at ease. He proves to be a fast but articulate and eloquent speaker – a distinct improvement on the last Labour PPC who was none of those things and downright hostile to boot.

The one before that went AWOL only to re-surface as a Lib Dem Councillor.

Could this be third time lucky for Labour?

I first ask him what made him decide to stand:

For some time I’ve felt a growing sense of anger at the coalition government and the way it is putting vicious policies in place with no mandate.  A by-election comes along with only three weeks campaigning time and it’s going to be a tough call for Labour in such a short time coming from third.

I’ve always had this part of me that which would like to be an MP and I knew if I got selected it could make a difference in the number of volunteers  we could get down here for Labour  a bit of extra publicity for us in terms of getting in the papers getting it on the TV – that could help Labour and could possibly `swing it’ enough to make those former Labour voters who voted Lib  Dem last time “to keep the Tories out” come back to Labour in sufficient numbers that we could actually take the seat .

I ask him about Lib Dem literature which consistently targets Labour support by urging them to vote tactically but he refuses to be drawn and gleefully tells me instead about his St Valentine’s Day prank earlier, when he sent a bunch of red roses to the Conservatives from the Lib Dems with the message:

“I  hate it when we fight”.


“There was a fantastic response from twitter. People know these two are political bedfellows and the Eastleigh by-election is really just a lovers tiff.”

He took the theme further…

“I would like to challenge the coalition parties for one of them to stand aside.

Instead of the both spending a £100,000 fighting tooth and nail to elect a candidate who is going to vote the same for the same polices. Why don’t they give £100,000 to the people of Eastleigh or a local charity like the surestart centre?

Of the £200,000 they are jointly spending – £100,000 is a complete waste of money because it s just for the same polices.

So I’m asking for one of them to stand aside and let the other on have a free run for the coalition

That the serious point of the flowers I sent today …they are in bed together …that’s the reality of it and Labour is the alternative.”

I ask why is it that the Eastleigh Local area has some of the worst deprivation in the Borough but also the lowest voting turnout.

Why is the people who need the most representation don’t vote and why can’t Labour win their support?

“What motivates me in politics is that the people who shout the loudest and get the most attention are the people who are better off.

” There was a disconnection with the voters in Central Eastleigh and we haven’t had the manpower but Labour is now back in force in Eastleigh.

Is it just a manpower thing?

“Also tactical voting – the idea that you should vote Lib Dem where Labour come third – that’s proved to result in a Tory coalition so the message is clear:

If you want change then you have to vote Labour in Eastleigh.

If you want to protest against the coalition you can’t vote Liberal Democrat.

If you have voted Lib Dem tactically in the past – this doesn’t work anymore because they are the same as the Tories.

What do you make of Lib Dems claims that Chris Huhne was a good constituency MP?

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he was as lots of MPs are good constituency MPs. Most MPs are honest ,work hard and do the right thing.

I’m trying to be as positive as I can be. Chris Huhne is a tragic personal story but its in the past so no, we are not playing on it.

I’m just asking people to think about our policies and what Labour stands for – policies that will make a big change in people’s lives.

You’re not a local person would you relocate if you won the seat?

“I would be based here during weekends when I did my constituency and in the week I’d be in London where I would do my Westminster work.”

Do you think you have a grasp of local issues?

Do you think it’s a good idea for the council to give up a bit of our recreation ground to Sainsbury’s so they can build a bigger supermarket?

Well I’m very keen to support development that provides new jobs but we have to be sensitive to the green issues in the area. Like the Botley housing development. Green space being lost to building houses that people won’t be able to afford. The same with gravel pits there is insufficient consideration to loss of green space. We do need jobs and homes here but there are Brownfield sites as well.

Look, I don’t pretend that I’m up on local issues like people who have lived here all their lives.

Bu basic issues are the same across the country – standard of living, tax, are local health services any good, whether your kid’s school is any good – these are the things people care about from Land’s End to John O’Groats and for those issues I come from exactly the right place…I come from the Labour party.

Do you think your experience as a scriptwriter will help you in this campaign?

People seem to find it refreshing  to find that  I’m not an identikit politician and I haven’t been a special advisor or a researcher in the House of Commons and that I’ve been earning my crust as a gagsmith and a novelist.

People have said they find you laid back, relaxed – are you really serious about this?

Well I am relaxed because I am confident Labour is in the right. I’ve been on the stump for 30 years. I have been campaigning for Labour since 1979 when I was 17 years old and got 30 votes out of a possible 1000 in a school election.

I hoping to do better than that this time!

I’m hoping voters will try me out. It’s only for two years if don’t like me you can kick me out in two years time. You tried the coalition; now why not give Labour a try this time?

Do you have a message to those Labour voters who are considering voting tactically?

“Don’t get fooled again.

Labour is the only alternative to the coalition”


  18 comments for “O’Farrell warns: “Don’t get fooled again”

  1. Keith House
    February 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    However much Labour may protest, the simple reality is that only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Conservatives in Eastleigh. Votes for Labour just help get David Cameron one step closer to a majority in Parliament.

    • February 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      I would rather a tory MP than a lying, cheating, two faced FibDem MP. A man that would not speak up for local people on issues that were oposed to your local policy. Where is the justice in having an MP who will rubber stamp and support your crazy plans for Eastleigh and offer no help or support to the many who think your plans to build on green spaces, have secret deals with Sainsburys to build on the rec, sell off allotments for homes, cut down local trees for extened council buildings, etc. are wrong. No sir, we need an MP that will stand up for ALL the local people, not just the FibDem ones. Do not vote FibDem.!! Vote for Eastleigh.

    • Vikki
      February 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Votes for Lib Dems are votes for Conservatives. Lib Dems are Tories and Cameron’s lap dogs. O’Farrell for me.

  2. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    February 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    There is a lot of focus on Labour tactical voters returning but I also wonder about traditional Lib Dem supporters who, now they have seem the Lib Dems in power, may be feeling disillusioned after the back flips on VAT hikes, tuition fees, spending cuts.
    There were after all, resignations at the time.
    O’Farrell looks like the kind of candidate that might appeal to perhaps more educated middle class LD supporters dismayed at at the direction of the Coalition.

  3. February 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Remind me – which party is keeping David Cameron in power without a majority?

  4. Stuart
    February 19, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Anybody reading this opposed the government’s workfare schemes, and thinking of voting for O’Farrell needs to ask John via twitter – @mrjohnofarrell – whether as MP he would stand in supporting John McDonnell’s EDM ending of the newly introduced regulations – see here:

  5. Dave N
    February 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

    How can anyone contemplate voting for O’Farrell when he has stated that he wished Argentina had beaten Britain in the Falklands War and that the IRA had succeeeded in killing Margaret Thatcher. He is quite obviously not on our side and actually appears to be an Irish Republican.

  6. Sue
    February 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    But Keith a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tories. It is a vote for rises in tuition fees to unaffordable levels. It’s a vote for the Health and Social Care Bill which will devastate our NHS. It’s a vote for the Welfare Bill which is devastating our welfare State. Lib Dems and Tories —– they’re in it together! And we are all suffering the consequences!

  7. Brian Norgate
    February 20, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Sue is right what kind of political party relies on negative campaigng, Both Huhne and House have admitted they rely on negative campaigning.

    a vote for Mike Thornton is a vote for the Tory led coalition that plans to sell off the NHS and the National Blood service

    Mike Thronton says one thing in the Council and another in his negative leaflets, Mike and the lib dems put out leaflets saying they wont build on Stoneham park and Boorley green yet supported it at full council.

    Well now Mike Thorntons time yes or no will he support save stoneham – then you will know how to
    trust his negative campaigning

    you may not know but Southampton Council have commited to the 1995 agreement and wont build on the green gap between the two constituencies.

    Allington was the best site but Keith House screwed up a wasted the negotiations over Allington, I asked many questions at full council which exposed Keith Houses failures over Allington, Wildern Mill and the
    Ageas/Rose Bowl.

    Eric Pickles said the Borough news was a mini pravda and should be stopped yet people dont know elected councillors are denied putting articles in the borough news, thats not very democratic is it, neither is the three week cut and run by election
    so a vote for the lib dems ia vote for negative and undemocratic politics

    may i remind you of Keith houses No Never statements
    over parking charges and he would not build on land near Botley over his dead body, they were not worth
    the paper they were written on

    this election is not about negative campaigning or europe – its about our MP thats why John Ofarrell
    working with Labours two Southampon MPs is the best and only choice for a positive voice for Eastleigh in Parliament

  8. Pete Stewart
    February 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    The Telegraph reports that Conservatives now admit they cannot beat the LibDems.

    So neither Labour nor the Conservatives can beat the LibDems.

    Therefore logically if LibDem bashing is the ultimate goal, people should unite for this by-election and vote UKIP.

    This would make it a two horse race between UKIP and the LibDems.

    If enough people see the sense in such a protest vote, then UKIP would win.

  9. Graham
    February 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

    A Vote for UKIP is a vote for Lib Dems and WILL keep the LIB Dems in. UKIP have no policies, ask them what their policies are on Education, Health, Defence, Foreign Policy, Health, Benefits.
    They don’t have any, if does not involve leaving the EU.
    Whilst on am not a supporter of EU membership under the current terms of membership, I do support the Tory stance, who also have firm policies.

  10. Pete Stewart (former Conservative now UKIP)
    February 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Graham. You are wrong as follows:

    1) Conservatives admit they can’t beat the LibDems because too many Conservatives like me have switched to UKIP. Therefore if your aim is to see a LibDem defeat, it’s pointless voting Conservative.

    2) In theory Conservatives could join forces with Labour to secure a LibDem defeat, but Labour can’t win because too many Labour people will vote LibDem to keep out their arch enemies the Conservatives. Also on ideological grounds, most Conservatives are too far removed from Labour to support electing a Labour MP.

    3) The ONLY logical option for Conservatives which stands any chance of causing a LibDem defeat is if Conservatives lend their vote to UKIP for this by-election. The combined vote would secure a LibDem defeat and elect a UKIP MP (which for most Conservatives would be the lesser of many evils). Also angry Conservatives could use it as a protest against the coalition.

    4) UKIP has a full manifesto.

    • Graham
      February 23, 2013 at 7:32 am

      Seems UKIp are in dissarray with a major defection to the Conservatives, due to the way Lady UKIP Members are treated according to the UKIP MEP who has defected.
      Will the UKIP Eastleigh candidate follow shortly?

  11. maureen
    February 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm


  12. Stuart Jebbitt
    February 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    “Won’t get fooled again” -a great track by the Who – and the gist of the song is that they’re all the same! Con, Labs and Libs –
    all part of the corrupt establishment.
    My main bugbear right now is the obscene amount of money and resources the moneyed parties are throwing at this by-election.
    As a resident, I have been inundated with literature, nuisance phone calls, and canvassers. I’m at the point now where I’m ignoring the door and the phone, if I don’t recognize the number.
    Most of the leaflets just attack the rival parties. i.e. nothing positive to say. lib dems have put in about a dozen leaflets now – all saying ‘we will save your green spaces’ – I can only presume they are working on the basis that if you tell a LIE enough times people will start to mistake it for the truth.
    When parties like the lib dems can afford to bus in activists from other parts of the country and also pay them expenses as well as feed them – how can any smaller parties or independent voices hope to be heard? no wonder the Green Party decided to sit this one out.
    Our ‘democracy’ is not an even playing field. For one, I would seek a legal limit of 3 delivered leaflets per party per election.
    Once this farce of a by election is over we need an FOI request to show how much money was spent. It’s time for Electoral Reform.

  13. Brian Norgate
    February 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Keith it was not that long ago at the meeting in Bournemouth with the local Government association
    you meet Eric Pickles and you said you could not disagree with anything Eric Pickles said.

    sounds like you were all tories together in coalition with a meeting of minds and
    with a statement like that most people would agree
    you are a tory – not the Hampshire tories though

    if you believe in democracy and British fair play its the Libs turn to tactically vote for a Labour candidate this time.

    but you are not democratic are you – as one of your Lib dems ex candidates is quoted as saying they were told when asked to jump the only question you can ask is how high

    Dont get fooled again says John Farrell says he is right because a good negotiator would never offer a deal with out an equal offer but you would never
    make an offer like that would you

  14. February 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    If you don’t want to get fooled again, don’t vote Lib LabCon. Voting English democrats is the real alternative to the destructive economic policies that has driven our country to the edge of a triple dip recession. why vote for more of the same medicine when its clear, it isn’t working? Its your choice next Thursday, don’t waste your vote.

  15. Pete Stewart
    February 22, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    John, Certainly people should NOT vote LIb/Lab/Con if they want to change. But realistically do you believe enough will unite behind the English Dems to beat the LibDems?

    Logically if you unite forces behind the MOST LIKELY candidate (UKIP) then you will beat any adversary, no matter how great they are.

    But logic requires the use of the head and 85% of voters will carry on using their hearts no matter how annoying to them the result is. That’s why the LibDems win, because they use their noddles.

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