Eastleigh Cons

Oh what a pretty mess!

The Cons want to win the forthcoming Eastleigh By-election caused by the resignation of Chris Huhne (BBC News Website 4 February 2013 Chris Huhne quits as MP after guilty plea) but a number of obstacles stand in their way:

  • “Gay Marriage” is pissing off the Conservative grassroots and may cause conservative voters to stay at home – it may pay Clegg to get this election called early (if he can) whilst the issue is fresh in the blue rinse minds.
  • Nigel Farage stood for UKIP in Eastleigh in the 1994 by-election

On the other hand the Liberals may find that some of their voters (those sickened by some of the actions of this coalition) drift off to Labour or the Greens.  Will they also suffer from the claimed Conservative fury at the Lib Dems for voting against the “redrawing boundaries to help the conservatives” bill?

So will the by-election be a lottery?

Might Cameron be wishing that this election was to be run under AV?  What might happen?

The result last time (per BBC News Election 2010 Website)

Candidate Party Vote % Share % Change
Chris Huhne Liberal Democrat 24,966 46.5 +8.2
Maria Hutchings Conservative 21,102 39.3 +2.1
Leo Barraclough Labour 5,153 9.6 -11.5
Ray Finch UK Independence Party 1,933 3.6 +0.2
Tony Stephen Pewsey English Democrats 249 0.5 +0.5
Dave Stone Independent 154 0.3 +0.3
Keith Low National Democrats 93 0.2 +0.2

Under AV who might stand?

  • Lib Dems
  • Labour
  • Conservatives
  • UKIP  (Farage has to stand or be accused of being “frit”)
  • Greens (with AV any by-election is worth a try – if only to get a good canvas in prospective council wards)
  • Independent “Pro marriage” Conservative (a maverick may stand saying that with AV a vote cannot be split)

After counting first preferences and then transferring the support for the “no-hopers”, the result might look like:

Party 1st Count
Transfers on subsequent counts Final Result
Green Ind Con Labour UKIP
Lib Dem 18,000 500 5,000 23,500
Con 14,000 2,500 7,500 24,000
UKIP 8.000 500 -8.500
Labour 7,000 1,500 -8,500
Ind Con 3,000 -3,000
Green 3,000 -3,000
non transferred 1,000 500 3,000 1,000 5,500
Total 53,000 0 0 0 0 53,000

Given the unpopularity of the Lib Dems, there is probably a natural Conservative majority (25k vs 18k in the above speculation), but it may well be split (what-ever the voting system) by UKIP, allowing the Liberals to hold the seat under First Past the Post. The by-election shall probably be nasty, brutish (and thankfully short?).  The Conservatives may lose because it is fought under a voting system they support and the Liberals may win because it is fought under a voting system that they do not support.

The notorious Liberal By-election machine will be doing its best to encourage UKIP to stand (it will be a failure of nerve by UKIP if they do not stand).  If that same machine can stoke up the “Gay Marriage” issue such that a maverick independent traditional values conservative stands, it will.  The Bermondsey by-election showed how the Liberals can play the anti-gay card to their advantage.

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  • Julian Ware-Lane  On 6 February 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I think you will find that UKIP are anti-gay marriage and will pick up those disaffected Tories who put this issue above all else.

    I think you are wildly optimistic about turnout. I think we will see this in the low thirties.

    • enfranchiseme2  On 6 February 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Splitting the Con vote: Point taken about UKIP’s position re gay marriage, but I think it is about time we had a few independent conservatives stirring/messing things up a bit. Wishful thinking – possibly, but if the Con vote is to be split it does not really matter how it is split.

      Turnout: Yes, but I’m a dreamer. I like to think that if all the parties send their by-election teams into a constituency the result will be an increase in turnout compared to a general election rather than a reduction! (The Turnout was 79% in 2010 – 53,650 votes and in the 1994 by-election was lower at 58.2%, but interestingly 55,272 votes. Hm, equalisation?)

      (I also kept the overall figures roughly the same to the last general election in order to make it easier to draw up a possible AV result. Lazy, I know, but it is proportions that matter – unless we set a minimum threshold of say 30% of the entire electorate supporting you for your election to be valid!)

  • enfranchiseme2  On 14 February 2013 at 7:08 pm

    The BBC Website reports the following candidates have been nominated:

    COLIN BEX – Wessex regionalists
    DAVID BISHOP – Elvis Loves Pets Party
    JIM DUGGAN – Peace Party
    RAY HALL – Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party
    HOWLING LAUD HOPE – Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party
    MARIA HUTCHINGS – Conservative
    DIANE JAMES – UK Independence Party
    DR IAIN MACLENNAN – National Health Action Party
    KEVIN MILBURN – Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
    JOHN O’FARRELL – Labour
    DARREN PROCTER – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
    DANNY STUPPLE – Independent
    MIKE THORNTON – Liberal Democrats
    MICHAEL WALTERS – The English Democrats – “Putting England First!”

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

    One argument says that the electorate rapidly sort out that it is “a two horse race” – Tory and Liberal and then vote tactically to try to keep out the “greater of two evils”.

    More likely is that probably four candidates make a decent show of things (assuming they can motivate enough supporters to canvas and to display posters – appearing to be in the race is more important than actually being in the race).

    I think three of the candidates may admit to being joke candidates, whilst the other “minor” candidates may be trying to make an impact with respect to some local issues. These are the candidates that could just make it all a lottery.

    No word from the Greens as to why they are not standing – given the recent news about meat processing, elder care and Europe, I am a little surprised that they do not want the platform. Perhaps they are wary of being “Monstered”.

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