FT: Tories face “tough battle” to oust Chris Huhne in Eastleigh

As the Financial Times notes of the battle to win the Lib Dem / Tory marginal of Eastleigh:

The Hampshire railway town is 11th on Mr Cameron’s target list; the Liberal Democrats’ majority of a little more than 500 should be easily within reach.

But is it really?

… the Tories are by no means certain to win Eastleigh. Lib Dem strategists believe Chris Huhne, the sitting MP, will easily hold the seat – a view privately shared by some Conservatives. …

Eastleigh is the kind of seat that defies the traditional “swingometer”. Like many Lib Dem MPs, Mr Huhne has dug in, building a reputation in the national media and as a local campaigner. He says he has dealt with 13,000 pieces of casework since the last election. “I might not always be able to help, but people know I’ve tried,” he says. The party has a ruthless local organisation and almost complete control of the local council – a factor often underestimated by the national media.

Mr Huhne argues that the absence of a strong local Conservative councillor base in his constituency seriously reduces their ability to campaign on the ground. “There is only so much you can do with an air war,” he says, referring to national media campaigns.

I’m on the record as saying I will eat my hat – and it’s a very nice hat – if Chris doesn’t retain Eastleigh. The FT mentions Chris’s strong campaigning record, and the Lib Dems’ sustained record of success on the council (one of the few Lib Dem groups to continue to make gains even when running the council). Add to that the first-time incumbency bounce Chris should achieve – not least thanks to those 13,000 pieces of casework – and it would be a brave person who bet against the chances of the two-time leadership challenger.

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  • I have yet to meet a Conservative who thinks thay can win it. I feel this is one seat that you could put your house on a Lib/Dem win.

  • Martin Land 8th Feb '10 - 2:45pm

    Monitoring Political Betting is like a blood sport; you can see where Tories betting on faith rather than sound judgement are going to put their money and then make an easy killing!

  • Cllr Patrick Smith 8th Feb '10 - 7:47pm

    Chris Huhne`s volumes of local casework, as a very hard work Constituency MP and deserve full recognition from the electorate.His high standards have also set the bench mark for all of those sad unrepentant parliamentarians, who chose to flaunt their `Expenses’, whilst giving back so much less, to the constituents requiring most help.

  • Martin Kinsella 13th Feb '10 - 1:02am

    I think he will hang on as well. Although it will be close I expect him to increase his majority.

    Mind you he has form in the expenses debate so let’s not paint him as whiter than white in that respect.

2 Trackbacks

  • By Are the Tories resigned to pushing lobby fodder? on Tue 9th February 2010 at 10:54 am.

    […] challenged. If it were true, Chris Huhne should already be conceding defeat in Eastleigh, but as Stephen Tall reported yesterday, the reality on the ground is very […]

  • By Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #156 on Sun 14th February 2010 at 8:01 pm.

    […] ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down: 1. FT: Tories face “tough battle” to oust Chris Huhne in Eastleigh by Stephen Tall on Lib Dem Voice. Few pick a fight with Chris and win. 2. The 14 non-Lib Dem MPs […]

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