Eastleigh Tory candidate “running scared” from hustings

Missing Tory candidateThe Conservative candidate has pulled out of the BBC Radio 5 Live hustings this morning, and is facing accusations of running scared of voters.

From The Guardian:

There is growing concern within the party that with a week to go before polling day her no-nonsense and frequently off-message approach is damaging its chances of seizing the seat from the Liberal Democrats.

Candidates from the other major parties were attending the debate – chaired by Victoria Derbyshire – on Thursday morning for 5 Live, a major set-piece of the week. But Conservative officials said Hutchings would not be there because she was expecting a visit from the prime minister at lunchtime.

However, the programme’s organisers contacted parties on February 13, with ample time for Hutchings to avoid a diary clash.

Lib Dem party President Tim Farron MP said,

The Tory candidate is clearly running scared. She’s refusing to show up to a hustings with the people she says she wants to represent, proving her claims to stay in touch are empty and worthless.

You have to ask why the Conservative machine keeps trying to hide her away. This is a candidate who says on her leaflets that she puts local people before political ambition, yet the moment she gets to share the spotlight with her party leader all that is forgotten.

Listen live to the hustings on BBC Radio 5 Live from 10am this morning.

UPDATE: In case you were wondering whether they really would “empty chair” Maria Hutchings on the radio, here it is:
That empty chair at @radio5live hustings in #Eastleigh
Photo also available on Flickr.

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8 Comments

  • Looks like the Tories are in meltdown. Still, no grounds for complacency.

  • Mike smithson over on Political Betting has what souns like a plausible explanation of Conservative strategy. Tory HQ seem to have beleived that, if not selected Hutchings might stand as an independent. Imagine if she had, & got more votes than the official Conservative candidate. In the circumstances, the Tory campaign are making the best of a bad situation.
    The real question is how she ever got selected for a seat which was No 12 on the Conservative target list ?

  • So who’s complaining?

    If the Tory candidate is useless, then that increases our chances of holding the seat.

    Right now, that surely is an unexpected bonus!

  • Dave Page 21st Feb ’13 – 11:49am
    “Hmm, I heard reports that she’d been empty chaired at the hustings, then I heard that another Tory MP had stepped in to answer on her behalf. Which is correct?”

    Tory MP George Hollingbery stood in for her. Very odd that a candidate refuses to attend a hustings yet expects to garner votes from those constituents.

  • “There is growing concern within the party that with a week to go before polling day her no-nonsense and frequently off-message approach is damaging its chances of seizing the seat from the Liberal Democrats.”

    Her “no-nonsense” approach? I’d say she has precisely the opposite problem!

  • It may come as a surprise to some on this site but many traditional voters from different political backgrounds find the Conservative candidate’s views attractive so I do not think we should be complacent or rejoice too soon. Some of these people would otherwise have switched to UKIP but might stay with the Conservatives because of her attitudes.

  • Jonathan Lancaster 22nd Feb '13 - 1:40pm

    @nvelope2003

    On the other hand, I haven’t heard much on policy to distinguish the Tory and UKIP candidates. And to a right wing voter, I imagine the UKIP candidate would have more credibility, seeing as her party aren’t in cahoots with the likes of us. Plus Cameron isn’t doing his party many favours as far as traditionalists are concerned (marriage reform eg).

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