Friday 1 March 2013

For the few who care, my views about Eastliegh

I am sure no-one really cares about My views about the Eastleigh by-election, but I am going to say my bit anyway.

There is only one party that can truly celebrate yesterday's win and that is UKIP. They provided a natural place for protest votes and harvested them in spades.

The Conservatives were the biggest victim of UKIP's success and I hope the message hits home that we need to be seen to be more Conservative (I don't mean more right wing, I mean more Conservative) and also sell our successes better. Conservatives are dealing with immigration, with net migration down by a third since 2010, the economy is slowly rebalancing itself in favour of the private sector, we are committed to solving the problems caused by an over-bureaucratic EU (including promising an in/out referendum) and most people are supportive of benefit reforms. We can also and be clear these are not areas where the Lib Dems in the coalition are natural supporters. The Conservative message is not getting across - and it needs to.

Whilst the Lib Dems can afford to do a tiny jig to celebrate the fact that they won, the underlying message must be scary. The Lib Dems have historically excelled at by-elections, often polling way above National expectations, partially because they seem to be able to pull in volunteer support from across the country in a way that others struggle to match. This time they suffered a 14% swing against them. If they perform like that now, imagine what it will be like during an election campaign when their support is much more spread out.

The Labour Party had a disaster with a tiny swing in their favour, this was not the performance of a party that is heading to Government.

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