Woke this morning to the news that the Lib Dems had managed – barely – to hold onto Eastleigh, and that the Tories had come 3rd after UKIP, with Labour a distant 4th.
Commentators seem unable to resist saying that the result is a ‘concern’ for Labour, even though Labour’s vote actually went up. The truth is, Labour were never seriously in the running for a seat that is dominated at a council level (to the degree of 100%) by the LibDems. The people of Eastleigh just aren’t Labour voters (for which they have my sympathies) – even in the 1997 New Labour landslide the seat remained LibDem.
Where the massive concern should be is for the Tories and the LibDems. The Tories lost to the party formed from their former ‘lunatic fringe’ (or rather, from one of the fringes!) after only barely losing to the LibDems in the last election.
The headlines say the LibDem’s vote was down by 14 points – but this means that they actually got around 34% fewer votes than in 2010. Their collusion with the Tories and their failure to resist the many heinous measures the Tories have voted through have cost them dear even in a LibDem heartland. And rightly so.
And UKIP? Well, it appears from what I’m hearing that immigration was a key doorstep issue – and UKIP have no shame about playing to people’s lowest instincts, so it’s not much of a surprise that they were able to eat the Tory vote to a large degree.