Here’s a round-up of news from the past 24 hours in the Eastleigh by-election…
Nick Clegg offered Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton his full backing on a visit to Eastleigh on Monday. Here‘s the Guardian report:
“I am confident we will keep hold of this seat but not because I say so but because the people of Eastleigh are telling us that,” said Clegg. Focusing on the party’s local dominance – it is the only place in the country where every councillor at district and county level is a Liberal Democrat – he said voters would focus on its “record of action” and said the party had “to be quite clear where our differences lie”. … Speaking after meeting students at the local college, Clegg said: “Cutting council tax, promoting more apprenticeships, creating jobs, protecting green spaces – those are things that Liberal Democrats haven’t just talked about, they are things they have actually done and it’s a record of which we are tremendously proud.”
It’s not just Nick Clegg who’s been doing his Eastleigh stint, though. Pictured above (with thanks to Jon Aylwin) is North Devon MP Nick Harvey out canvassing with Mike and some of his supporters.
Fantastic day of campaigning here with @eastleighlibdem. Thanks to the 100′s of you who turned out to help canvass, deliver, stuff envelopes
— Mike Thornton (@Mike4Eastleigh) February 12, 2013
Want to join the hundreds of Lib Dems who are doing their bit to help get Mike elected as the next Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh on 28th February? Here’s a reminder of how YOU can make a difference:
But of course this by-election isn’t all about the Lib Dems. Here’s what the other parties are up to…
It’s not been the best of starts to the campaign for Tory candidate Maria Hutchings. Hidden from media view by Tory minders to prevent any repeat of her “I don’t care about refugees” gaffes, her website’s intimate, first-hand guide to the constituency turned out to be ripped off Wikipedia:
The Conservative candidate in the by-election for disgraced Chris Huhne’s seat has been caught lifting a Wikipedia entry for a campaign website. Maria Hutchings copied an extract from the online encyclopedia about the Roman past of Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Which prompted this great tweet from Martin Shapland:
— Martin Shapland (@MShapland) February 11, 2013
And a kind offer from Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton:
— Lib Dem Press Office (@LibDemPress) February 12, 2013
Still, at least the Tory campaign has Peter Bone and friends on side, according to the London Evening Standard:
Conservative MPs are queuing up to lay into the Lib-Dems in a ferocious battle in the Eastleigh by-election. … “For once I’m free to attack the ‘yellow peril’,” said Tory MP Peter Bone. Nick de Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said: “Looking forward to taking on Lib-Dems without troubling myself too much about Coalition arrangements — I won’t be packing my gloves.” His predecessor in the 1922 post Mark Pritchard added: “There will be no respite for Liberal Democrats.”
Ukip have now selected their candidate, Diane James, and true to form immediately began talking up the evils of immigration — Ukip candidate: halt immigration to prevent Romanian crime:
“On 1 January 2014 the floodgates will open for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens [to come to Britain] … We are not just talking about pressure on services from immigration but also, and I have to say it, the crime associated with Romanians. One of the problems with the Olympics last year was the Metropolitan police having to deal with Romanian criminal gangs pickpocketing. … Until we sort out the UK Border Agency and make it fit for purpose, the only way is a moratorium on immigration.”
Still she has Neil Hamilton on her side, so that should help.
Labour selects its candidate tonight. LabourList has profiles of the three short-listed candidates here. The most famous is author and satirist John O’Farrell, though I fear he may not recover from this endorsement:
— Polly Toynbee (@pollytoynbee) February 9, 2013
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.