Eastleigh by-election: your essential round-up of the latest campaign news (26 Feb)

I reported earlier this morning the latest poll from Eastleigh — showing a narrow Lib Dem lead over the Tories — but one finding in it is particularly relevant to this round-up. The question was asked: “We’re interested in the extent to which people locally have heard from the political parties over the last few weeks. Please can you tell me whether Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have done each of the following…” And here’s what they found:

eastleigh contacts

In short, the Lib Dems have out-campaigned both Labour and the Conservatives, with 92% of the voters in Eastleigh having been contacted in some way in the last three weeks. (Though that still leaves a hard-core of 8% for us to find…)

Here’s a few Lib Dem activists explaining in 90 seconds why they’ve been joining with thousands of other party supporters in campaigning for a Mike Thornton victory on Thursday:

Here’s a handful of your tweets:

It’s been a tough few days, but…

Here’s a quote from a report in today’s Financial Times:

And that’s backed up by the local newspaper:

Not that that’s stopped the Conservatives relishing it all. Just look at the smiles of Tory activists in a photo tweeted by the party’s deputy chairman, Michael Fabricant:

And here’s another charming Tory official quoted in The Spectator:

… don’t forget that the by-election was triggered by Chris Huhne’s ‘guilty’ plea for perverting the course of justice, and in spite of repeated references in Conservative campaign material to ‘trust’, Huhne appears to have had little effect on the by-election. One Conservative MP I spoke to about the Rennard scandal over the weekend suspects it may have similar limited impact on the Lib Dems. ‘They’re a bit like cockroaches: we can’t get rid of them with Huhne, and we can’t get rid of them with these ‘sex pest’ stories, either.’ This says a fair bit about Tory MPs’ faith in their own party’s Eastleigh campaign, too.

Here’s Polly Toynbee (no friend of the Lib Dems) on it all:

If the accusations are true, Lord Rennard’s gropings will be all too familiar to women everywhere, harried by grimy colleagues fondling, pinching, leering, and pretending women can’t take a joke if they complain. … But (so far) the Rennard allegations look less than criminal: a grubby pawing of women candidates on a training session is revolting and all too horribly common. Yet this squalid little “not safe in taxis” tale is being bracketed with the serial rape of children in homes and hospitals by Jimmy Savile. … As that faulty elision is obvious to most people, the attack switches to the Lib Dems’ failure to investigate. However, Danny Alexander’s stern word seems to have caused Rennard’s resignation “on health grounds”. A less than mortal crime (as revealed so far) was handled too quietly, but their most senior party strategist was ejected. Clegg’s error was to try to finesse what he knew, using what the Mail splashes as “weasel words”. Nonetheless, keep it in proportion.

And finally…

Here’s today’s betting odds:

And a reminder of how you can help Mike Thornton’s campaign:

Next Friday morning will be too late. There has rarely been a more important by-election for the party.

It’s up to us whether we remember it for the right reasons or not…

This is the ninth of my round-ups of news from Eastleigh:

And you can read my Co-Editor Mark Pack’s rounds-up on his site here.

* 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.

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8 Comments

  • Do the poll base figures refer to the number of people interviewed? If so, a thousand from each party seems an awful lot!!!

  • Am amazed at the tiny %s for receipt of campaigning e-mails, unless the difficulty is in campaigns getting contact addresses. Maybe time for every UK household to get a permanent email address as well as
    postcode?

  • How much more evidence do we need to persuade the Electoral Commission that the Mail and the Telegraph are not genuine newspapers at all, but political literature published and promoted by Tory donors on behalf of the Conservative Party?

  • David Allen 27th Feb '13 - 1:12pm

    Simon Oliver: Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody is ever going to follow an instruction which asks them to leaflet only a select set of nominated house numbers, simply because the others have “opted for email” instead. It is far easier to just keep shoving the leaflet through every door in turn. (And if one party did decide to play to your rules, they would soon stop when their opponents didn’t.)

    John mc: If you had a permanent email address which was publicly available, you would get spammed into oblivion. If you had to have one, you’d do best to open a new account on gmail or similar, and then never read it.

    However: What about the idea of recording or providing an email address for each elector, but then providing that information ONLY to the local returning officer, as an extra, secret, part of the electoral register?

    Then, in place of the expensive Freepost leaflet, we could allow all declared candidates at all elections (including locals) a specific number of emails to each elector. The materials for each of these would have to be sent to the returning officer, who would then take the material and organise its mass mailing to the local electorate. This, the parties and candidates would never get hold of the email list themselves.

    This would save fortunes in scrap paper, help democracy, provide state support, and cost less than the Freepost!

  • David Allen 27th Feb '13 - 1:14pm

    penultimate sentence, “This,” should be “Thus,”

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