The Conservative candidate Mims Davies has been re-elected as the MP for Eastleigh in Thursday’s General Election.
While the Conservatives have lost seats and seen majorities reduced across the country Davies has increased her share of the vote in Eastleigh constituency – indeed both Labour and the Conservatives were the beneficiaries of a collapse in the Ukip vote as in line with national trend Ukip voters no longer see the party as relevant following deiciosn of the government to trigger Brexit.
While the Ukip vote dropped by 13% both Conservative and Labour vote gained 7% while the Liberal Democrat vote remained static.
Neither the Conservatives nor Labour spent any more on their campaign than they did in 2015 and both used a fraction of the resources that was poured into the seat during the 2013 by-election yet the Tories enjoyed their biggest win here since 1992.
The last time Labour polled over 11,000 votes was in 1997 and 2005 was the last election here where they had more than 20% support.
This election seems to confirm that the political map in Eastleigh is now looking very much like it did throughout the 60s and 70s, with Labour and the Lib Dems competing for the same pool of voters splitting the local progressive liberal vote in the process.
Speaking from the podium Mims Davies thanked the council staff and police for organizing the event, payed tribute to her election team and outlined her future programme:
“I’m so delighted to have been returned once again as the MP for the Eastleigh constituency.
It has been an immense privilege to serve as the MP for the last two years and I vow to work as hard as I can for local people across Westminster and of course locally.
“I will continue to press ahead on the all the progress I wish to make on the transport infrastructure that we need here across the constituency, building on the two and a half million pounds for junction seven on the M27 which I’ve secured and the planning for the Botley by-pass which is going next month and I hope to see diggers on the ground during this next term that I’ve been elected to.
I will continue to fight to protect our greenspaces from inappropriate development and I’m very proud to be trying to secure further protections for our community spaces and our ancient woodland”
A disappointed Mike Thornton told Eastleigh News he couldn’t rule out not standing again if there was another General Election in the near future – a distinct possibility given the uncertainly over Theresa May’s ability to govern effectively with a reduced majority .
Speaking to Eastleigh News reporter John Morrison Thornton said he was pleased that the Labour party campaign seems to have galavanised younger voters.
“I congratulate Corbyn and congratulate Jill (Jill Payne the Labour candidate) for getting the young people out to vote.
“I think that is fantastic if that makes sure we get more young people involved then I’m happy about that.”
“We concentrated here on health and education both of which are so important. Now we’ve got a Conservative government back we are going to see continued lack of investment.”
One of the biggest smiles of the evening belonged to Labour’s Jill Payne – her eleven and a half thousand votes were almost as many as Ukip’s Diane James scored in the 2013 By-election which at the time was hailed as a great victory.
“In Eastleigh I’m really pleased that our Labour vote increased. We’ve had a really good campaign. So many people on the doorstep said they wanted to vote for us but they also wanted the tories out so they were going to tacticaly vote (for the Lib Dems).
A lot of people this time did vote Labour because we offered a real alternative but if everyone voted Labour who wanted to, we could have pushed the Lib Dems into third place.”
Ukip candidate Malcolm Jones was still smiling at end of the evening despite recording their worst performance in Eastleigh since 2001. In Fareham in 2015 Jones came second with over 15% but he could only poll 3% this time.
“I’m not despondent because all my votes went to Mims Davies and I know they (the Conservatives) are kicking Brexit into the long grass. They’re not actually going to deal with Brexit and they (voters) are going to come back – and more”
“Ukip is not going anywhere. We stood because we wanted to show people we are a strong party we’re not weak. We didn’t lose today because we know our votes are still there. They’ve just been lent to someone else temporarily”
Speaking from the podium Green Party candidate Ron Meldrum said:
The total number of ballot papers issued was 57,416 of these 14,815 were postal votes.
The turnout in Eastleigh was 71%, the biggest in 20 years for a parliamentary election.
Meanwhile in Winchester – which includes Eastleigh’s council wards in Chandler’s Ford and Hiltingbury the Conservative candidate Steve Brine was returned with 52% of the vote.
Lib Dem Jackie Porter came second with 34% (a 10% increase) and Labour’s Mark Challoner was third with 12% – a 3% increase.
Nearby in Portsmouth South the Conservative Flick Drummond narrowly lost her seat to Labour while in Southampton Itchen the Conservative, Royston Smith hung on, after three recounts by 31 votes while in Southampton Test veteran Labour MP Dr Alan Whitehead was returned with an increased majority.