On Thursday morning David Cameron visited Eastleigh. On Thursday afternoon Cameron gave a hawkish speech on immigration. These two events are connected.
The 2015 election will be held in the new post-Coalition environment. Eastleigh is the first opportunity for the Coalition partners, and Labour, to test campaigning techniques.
If the Conservatives are going to get a majority at the next election they need to win places like Eastleigh. If the Lib Dems are going to have a chance of being Coalition king makers they need to hold their Eastleighs. The Lib Dems have traditionally won such places by being the respectable protest vote against the two party state, but now they are part of Government. What does Labour want? 38 of the 58 seats which the Lib Dems hold have a very similar profile. The Lib Dem incumbent is being chased by a Conservative in close second, with Labour very far back in third. In such seats, taking votes from the Lib Dems could deliver the seat to the Tory, and the Government to the Conservatives.
If you want to stop the Hamble gravel pit and get Botley bypass then vote Lib Dem.
The streets of Eastleigh are paved with yellow. As Jonathan Jones highlights
“The Liberal Democrats hold all 36 Eastleigh Borough Council seats in the 15 wards that make up the constituency. … They also successfully defended all 20 of their seats that were up for election in 2011 and 2012…. The Lib Dems won 47 per cent of the vote in Eastleigh Constituency council elections in 2011 and 2012, compared to the Conservatives’ 24 per cent”
By deciding to hold the election within a month of Chris Huhne resigning the Lib Dems are maximise their strong local infrastructure.
If you want to minimise immigration and have a referendum on the EU vote Conservative
Lord Ashcroft’s poll of views in Eastleigh found that voters have greater confidence in the Conservatives to deliver nationally.
Which Party do you think would have the best approach to each of the following issues?
|Getting the economy growing and creating jobs||37%||13%||29%|
|Defending Britain’s interests in Europe||44%||13%||22%|
|Cutting deficit & debt||48%||13%||18%|
Give Labour a go, you never know
I disagree with Peter Hoskins assessment that it was a mistake for Labour to pick minor-celebrity John O’Farrell as their candidate. Whatever the outcome their will be disharmony and anxiousness somewhere in the Coalition. Whatever the outcome the Coalition will last until 2015. (The national polls suggest it would be a massive risk to engineer an early general election). Labour might as well give it their best shot and learn what they are really capable of. If they take enough Lib Dem voters to hand the seat to the Tories then this can be factored into the 2015 campaign strategy. If they can’t then they need to start preparing for Coalition with the Lib Dems.
Just got an email from the Labour Party. “Dear John O’Farrell, Will you go to Eastleigh to help John O’Farrell?”
— John O’Farrell (@mrjohnofarrell) February 14, 2013
Eastleigh will give a glimpse of what might happen in 2015. The trick for the parties will be to extrapolate meta-trends from localised variables.