“We need 60 Eastleigh’s” Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg declared yesterday while at a party rally at West End’s Ageas Bowl.
The Liberal Democrats are currently trailing Labour, The Conservatives and Ukip in the polls but Clegg recalled how two years ago, the Liberal Democrat’s secured a hard fought by-election that the party had not been favorite to win, by sheer hard work.
“I think back to that day – it was the last day in February 2013 – just over two years ago, when we defied the odds and confounded the predictions and we won.
“We won because we campaigned as if our lives depended on it.
“What we are going to do, is win not just here, but also up and down the country.
“We are not just running just one Eastleigh by-election but 60 Eastleigh by-elections.”
The Lib Dem leader described the Ageas Bowl as an “extraordinary venue” and an example of how he believes the Lib Dems are serving the community.
The council currently own the cricket and sports ground which is shortly to see a new hotel opening on site.
Clegg said it was important that the Lib Dems should continue to be an active participant in what looks likely to be a hung parliament, warning against the prospect of :
“A hapless minority labour administration dancing to the tune of Alex Salmond borrowing way beyond what our country can afford.”
“A hapless David Cameron administration dancing to the tune of Ukip, the DUP and most chillingly and worryingly of all his own MPs on the right wing of the party.”
Nick Clegg had been greeted by Local Lib Dem candidates and activists including Eastleigh’s Lib Dem leader Keith House, Winchester and Chandler’s Ford candidate Jackie Porter and Eastleigh’s, Liberal Democrat candidate, former MP Mike Thornton,
Thornton told Eastleigh News that he found that the future of the NHS was a major concern for voters on the doorstep.
“Even if they have other concerns they always mention the NHS.”
Thornton insisted that a Lib Dem MPs would be a mitigating force to whichever party found itself in government.
“Whatever we do we believe in democracy and we can put the heart into the Tories and financial sense into a labour government.”
Eastleigh News asked Mike Thornton about the local elections and if he thought the Lib Dems would continue to dominate the council chamber.
Thornton pointed out the Lib Dems were in favour of proportional representation while “Conservatives were opposed.”
“If we had PR we would have more Conservatives and Labour in the chamber.
“Ironically we support a system that allows more opposition.”
Listen to Nick Clegg talking to reporters at the Ageas Bowl
While speaking to reporters during a press conference Nick Clegg said he was confident that Mike Thornton would win again in Eastleigh.
“I’m very confident in Mike who is hugely popular not only because of his fantastic work over the last two years as the MP for this area and because of the campaigning that he does for example on something that is close to my heart – on Mental Health.”
“Mike has been an absolute hero – even when it wasn’t fashionable to do so – in speaking up about mental health.
“Regardless of whether people categorize themselves on the right or the centre or the left, everybody says that the Liberal Democrats have done a brilliant job for the local community in the way that they have run the council as well.
“ The local team, Mike’s record and our commitment for doing the right thing for the whole community will mean that we will win on May 7.”
The following candidates are also standing in the Eastleigh Parliamentary Election:
Declan Clune – TUSC
Mark Latham- Labour
Mims Davies- Conservative
Patricia Culligan -Ukip
Ray Hall – Beer, Baccy and Scratchings
Ron Meldrum – Green Party
There will be a public hustings for all the Parliamentary candidates next Wednesday, 29 April at Kings Community Church, Hedge End starting at 7.30 pm.