Tag Archives: eastleigh by-election

Eastleigh one year on: the by-election which secured Nick Clegg’s leadership

A year ago today, Mike Thornton was declared the new Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh.

Clegg Thornton Eastleigh

I’ve just been re-reading my first reflections on the result, written minutes after Mike’s narrow victory over Ukip was confirmed. As I pointed out then, despite the horrendous circumstances surrounding the by-election – Chris Huhne’s resignation, the allegations against Chris Rennard – Eastleigh was a good seat for the Lib Dems to contest owing to our long-standing, entrenched local strength there.

The other night’s victors, I noted, were Ukip: “There must also now be …

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Careful, Boris. Remember what happened to the last top Tory to liken the Lib Dems to a bird?

“The sooner we are shot of the great yellow albatross, in my view, the better.” So said Boris Johnson yesterday, taking a pop at both Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems.

But, as a classics scholar, Boris should beware a little thing called hubris. At the 1990 Tory Party conference, Mrs Thatcher poked fun at the Lib Dems’ new logo, the bird of freedom, by performing the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch:

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Opinion: 10 reasons that you will not be able to stamp out the Liberal Democrat “Cockroaches”

Since the conception of the coalition government the future of the Liberal Democrats has been one of the biggest talking points in British politics. The conventional wisdom was that they would be annihilated in 2015 as a result of broken promises and the tough decisions of government. Yet the party secured a stunning victory in Eastleigh on the back of 8% national poll ratings, abysmal national council elections and several heavily-reported scandals. Despite these difficult circumstances certain political commentators have claimed that the Liberal Democrats should not celebrate Eastleigh, pointing towards the 14% swing against them. But this is …

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Opinion: A Surging UKIP: Implications for Lib Dems in 2015

Against a less than optimal backrop, Eastleigh was a remarkable victory for the Lib Dems. And yet, the by-election was by no means unqualified success –support fell by 14 points relative to the 2010 general election result, with Mike Thornton winning in large part because the Conservative’s share dropped by a similar amount.

Of course, it was UKIP’s performance that caused such a divergence from the 2010 result. The UKIP question, then, is an important one – how will a surging centre-right party affect the electoral dynamics of the 30 or so constituencies in which the main threat to Lib Dem …

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Opinion: A rousing campaigning message from Lord Ashcroft (of all people)

Lord Ashcroft has done another enormous piece of polling, this time into the Lib Dem vote. A few of the more encouraging findings:

    • More people want a coalition including the Lib Dems (31%) than a Conservative majority (30%)
    • 30% of people could see themselves voting Lib Dem at the next general election
    • Only 1 in 5 think the Lib Dems have no real influence
    • Lib Dems outpoll the Conservatives on:
    o“Represents the whole country, not just some”(24% v 21%),
    o “Its heart is in the right place”(47% v 35%),
    o “stands for fairness”(41% v 30%)
    o “Stands for equal opportunity for all”(39% v 28%)
    o “Wants to help ordinary

Posted in Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Mike Thornton MP takes his seat in the Commons

By-election winning Lib Dems Alan Beith, Simon Hughes, Mike Thornton, Sarah Teather, Mark Hunter and David Chidgey
By-election winning Lib Dems. Photo by Helen Duffett, on Flickr.

From the BBC:

The newly elected Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton has taken his seat in the House of Commons after winning the Eastleigh by-election.

He took his oath of allegiance to the Crown earlier.

New MPs are not allowed to speak in debates, vote, or get paid,

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Opinion: Where do we go from Eastleigh?

Eastleigh railwayman statue - Some rights reserved by Mr. DuckeAfter a superb Eastleigh result, many Lib Dems will be rightly patting themselves on the back for what was a mammoth effort under the most difficult of circumstances. Happy memories came flooding back of the time we used to win by-elections. My first was volunteering in Dunfermline, winning a Labour heartland seat with a 16.2% swing.

After an unprecedented beating, the Tories will clearly take a long hard look at themselves – and hopefully draw all the wrong conclusions, as to why they are in such dire straits in the popularity stakes, by lurching to the right. However drawing all the wrong

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “We can be in government and win if we work together”

No prizes for guessing what dominates Nick’s weekly letter: the Eastleigh by-election, which he learned the Lib Dems had held with a majority of almost 1,800 when director of campaigns Hilary Stephenson texted him. ‘We didn’t win in Eastleigh “in spite” of our record. We won because of our record,’ says Nick. Significantly, though, there is also a paragraph dedicated to the party’s response to the allegations against Chris Rennard: ‘It’s clear mistakes were made in the handling of allegations and that is something we have to put right.’ Here’s his letter in full…

libdem letter from nick clegg

What a victory! After three weeks of seriously intense campaigning, we’ve done it. Mike Thornton is the new MP for Eastleigh.

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Your essential Eastleigh weekend reader — my pick of the must-reads

Papers - Some rights reserved by NS MewsflashIt’s Sunday afternoon, so here are a dozen thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking as you unwind after the turmoil and excitement of the past 7 days. For a change, this week’s collection is devoted to just one topic: the Eastleigh by-election (to be honest, I’ve not had time to read about much else!)…

Eastleigh By-Election: Worst of All Worlds for the Tories – Tim Bale has few words of comfort for the Tories: ‘Having run the economy into the ground, risked their already …

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Eastleigh shows why the Tories and Labour should now support PR in local elections

imageIf only, if only… Instead of holding out for a referendum on the Alternative Vote the Lib Dem negotiators had secured proportional representation for all local council elections instead.

Hindsight’s easy, I know. At the time of negotiating the Coalition Agreement, electoral reform at Westminster was the party’s deal-breaker. The Lib Dem vote had gone up by a million, our number of MPs down by five. The public were in favour, or so the polls said. It’s possible the party wouldn’t even have approved entering the Coalition if the Westminster voting system had been left untouched.

And yet, and yet… Proportional representation at a local council level would’ve been a far more transformational way of shifting the power dynamics in this country, of introducing genuine electoral competition into contests up and down the country. Eastleigh shows us how.

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 27 Comments

The View from the Dutch Social Liberals: Lib Dem Phoenix rises above Tory Ashes!

“Men of Harleigh, ye whose action
Put to rout the Tory faction
In their ranks spread wild distraction
Vanquished all their bands.
Shoulder press to shoulder
Onwards march and bolder
Triumphs more we yet shall see
Before we get much older.
“Peace, Reform and Liberation”
Be our triune aspiration
Till we win them for the nation
And our land be free!”

That was the hymn I hummed all day on Friday when I heard the news from Eastleigh!

We, the Dutch Social-Liberals from D66, know that (in Dutch coalition government politics) “Regeren is halveren”: every time D66 joins a government coalition, we risk getting halved (or worse) in our proportional electoral system …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 3 Comments

Opinion: Dead parrot bites back – again

Eastleigh HQ leafletsAt the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth in 1990, Margaret Thatcher famously used Monty Python’s ‘dead parrot’ sketch to mock the Liberal Democrats’ newly-designed bird of liberty. After a series of name changes and a derisory 6% of the vote at the European elections in 1989, the Lib Dems had been virtually written off. But the Eastbourne by-election gave the party the opportunity it needed to defy its media critics and get back into the game. This week, the dead parrot bit back – again.

Mike Thornton’s stunning …

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

Three things the Liberal Democrats must learn from Eastleigh

Liberal Democrats are entitled to a weekend of being incredibly pleased with ourselves. I have never been as proud of this party as I am now. The way we calmly and professionally got on with delivering a brilliant campaign on the ground was astonishingly good. Activists put their lives on hold and dedicated themselves to Eastleigh for three weeks. My eternal regret will be that I never made it there, due to a horrendous Flu and its lingering aftermath. However, Team Scotland and many others across the country phonebanked their hearts out. Yesterday in Edinburgh, we even had to have …

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My Eastleigh experiences

This month marked my twentieth year of helping the Lib Dems in by-elections.

My first by-election was at Newbury in 1993. My wife and I threw ourselves into the campaign on our home turf, after losing our son Toby to meningitis aged 16 months (he died just three days after Judith Chaplin, the former MP whose sad demise caused the by-election). It was a bitter sweet time, but we were truly delighted to host Paddy at our home three times during the campaign, once accompanied by Jane and their dog, Luke. Paddy was and is a shining inspiration in the Lib …

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Eastleigh by-election: my first thoughts

Let’s consider the backdrop: we’re polling at half the level we were in 2010; the previous MP, Chris Huhne, was forced to resign after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and faces a prison sentence; we’ve just endured a week of torrid publicity. And yet we’ve held on.

It’s true that, in some ways, Eastleigh was a good seat for us to have to contest. The party is immensely strong in the area, holding every council seat, and runs a popular council.

However, what has been immensely encouraging has also been the clear evidence Lib Dem activists remain …

Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 80 Comments

Eastleigh by-election: the result

And here it is;

  • Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat) – 13,342 votes
  • Diane James (UKIP) – 11,571 votes
  • Maria Hutchings (Conservative) – 10,559 votes
  • John O’Farrell (Labour) – 4,088 votes
  • Danny Stupple (Independent) – 768 votes
  • Iain Maclennan (National Health Action) – 392 votes
  • Ray Hall (Beer, Baccy and Crumpet) – 235 votes
  • Kevin Milburn (Christian) – 163 votes
  • Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony) – 136 votes
  • Jim Duggan (Peace) – 128 votes
  • David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets) – 72 votes
  • Michael Walters (English Democrats) – 70 votes
  • Darren Proctor (Trade Union and Socialist) – 62 votes
  • Colin Bex (Wessex Regionalists) – 30 votes
  • That’s a Liberal Democrat majority of 1,771 on a turnout of

    Posted in News | 11 Comments

    Eastleigh by-election live thread


    So, here we are, a by-election in a Liberal Democrat held seat, only the fifth such contest fought by the Party or its predecessor since 1945. This will be our live thread for the early evening, and I start with what is, hopefully, a good omen…

    Congratulations to all in Kingston for fighting such a great campaign despite losing so much potential campaigning support to the Eastleigh …

    Posted in News | 5 Comments

    Mike Thornton says thank you

    Hundreds of activists from across the UK have been part of a fantastic campaign in Eastleigh. Tonight, as we wait nervously for word from Hampshire, it’s gratifying to know that our candidate has impeccable manners, sending us this within minutes of the polls closing.


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    How are you spending your lunch hour today?

    This man has a suggestion…

    Every call makes a difference. Hit those phones to send Mike Thornton to Westminster. Instructions on how to do it are here.





    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

    What are you doing to help Mike Thornton win today?

    Adrenaline is potent stuff. Your body produces it to help you through high-stress situations. When it’s coursing through your veins, you can keep going for days, weeks even, as anyone who’s ever fought an election campaign will know. I think I had 15 hours sleep in the 5 days before the 1997 election. Of course, the presence of such a powerful substance in your system doesn’t make sleep come easily. That’s why so many of our team on the ground in Eastleigh were still awake last night when they were going to have to get up well before the crack …

    Posted in Op-eds | Leave a comment

    Eastleigh by-election: your essential round-up of the latest campaign news (28 Feb Polling Day Edition!)

    Welcome to the final round-up of the Eastleigh by-election campaign…


    It was the week when Mike Thornton’s campaign received a boost from former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown on Tuesday:

    Then yesterday as Nick Clegg made his final visit of the campaign:

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

    Opinion: Five reasons to go to Eastleigh to help Mike Thornton’s campaign…

    Paddy at Eastleigh

    It’s really, really close and this election looks like it could shape the general election. This is the time to take a stand and prove that Lib Dems can hold onto Lib Dem seats. We have good things to offer people, we have brought things to the coalition (think pupil premium and the £10,000 tax-threshold) and we have limited some of the more extreme conservative policies.  But to get people to recognise this we have to get the word out and the way to do

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

    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:

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged | 8 Comments

    Final Eastleigh poll puts Lib Dems narrowly ahead of Tories – but all within margin of error!

    What will (I assume) be the final poll of the Eastleigh by-election was published this morning. Conducted by Populus and commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, it shows the Lib Dems sustaining a narrow lead — significant in itself, but the more so as Eastleigh voters were interviewed over the weekend during which the controversy over allegations against Lord Rennard were prominent. Figures shown are compared with the most recent Populus poll, published at the end of last week:

      Mike Thornton (Lib Dem)

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

    Clegg slams Tories at Eastleigh for “breath-taking opportunism”

    nick clegg eastleighFrom PoliticsHome:

    Nick Clegg has accused the Conservatives of “breath-taking” opportunism over their campaign in Eastleigh.

    The Tories have run posters criticising Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton for backing a housing development on greenfield land in the constituency.

    Posted in News | Leave a comment

    Team EastLY – making a difference

    Some rights eserved by Helen Duffett

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

    Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Five days to make a difference.”

    Just one issue dominates Nick’s weekly letter: the Eastleigh by-election and the close contest between the Lib Dems and Tories. Here’s his letter in full…

    libdem letter from nick clegg

    Five days. That is all we have got left to make sure the people of Eastleigh send Mike Thornton to Westminster as their new MP. Five days to make a difference.

    I went back to Eastleigh this week. And each time I visit, I am overwhelmed by the number of volunteers, from all over the country, who are giving up their spare time to

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    ++ Another new Eastleigh poll – and this time it shows the Tories in front by 4%

    nick clegg eastleighLast night brought news of a Populus poll for The Times showing the Lib Dems ahead of the Tories by 33%-28%, a Lib Dem lead of 5%.

    But tonight a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday has shown the Tories ahead of the Lib Dems by 33%-29%, a Tory lead of 4%.

    Survation conducted an Eastleigh poll a fortnight ago — then they found the Lib Dems leading the Tories by 36%-33%. Here’s how the figures compare:

      Lib Dems 29% (-4%)
      Conservatives 33% (n/c)
      Ukip 21% (+5%)
      Labour 13% (n/c)

    Only …

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections and Polls | Also tagged , and | 56 Comments

    Eastleigh by-election: your essential round-up of the week’s campaign news

    Lib Dem chief executive Tim Gordon summed up the week so far in his weekly email to activists:

    Liberal Democrats have broken their own party’s by-election campaign records with more volunteers, more money raised and more campaign literature delivered in the opening days of the Eastleigh by-election campaign than any other.

    And today’s been no exception:

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

    ++ New Eastleigh poll: Lib Dems have 5% lead over Tories, Labour trail in 4th place behind Ukip

    eastleigh bar chartUK Polling Report has the figures from the latest (and last?) opinion poll to be conducted in Eastleigh ahead of polling day this Thursday — it shows the Lib Dems leading the Tories by 5%.

    The poll was conducted for The Times by Populus, the firm which undertook a previous survey for Lord Ashcroft (changes in brackets compare the two):

      Lib Dems 33% (+2%)
      Conservatives 28% (-6%)
      UKIP 21% (+8%)
      Labour 11% (-8%)

    On the face of it, this is good news for the Lib Dems. HOWEVER, we know the Tories are mounting …

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

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