Friday, 1 March 2013

Eastleigh By-Election Result – 1 March 2013

By midnight, we had the turnout figure: 52·8%, which is reasonably high for a mid term by-election. Just under a quarter of all votes cast were postal votes, one source has said, while another has put it as high as two-thirds of the whole – the bulk of the Lib Dem ones apparently having been sent in before the Lord Rennard story broke in the media.

If the 66% figure turns out to be anywhere near the more accurate, this ought to explain the Yellows' victory if that is confirmed later, especially because of that timing.

Perhaps, in a way, that would be poetic justice, as the now-proven coincidental timing of the revelations should not have had an undue influence on the result anyway.

The Liberal Democrats are confident they have won, despite some seemingly odd suggestions that UKIP were running neck-and-neck with them, both overall and (on a separate occasion) in respect of postal votes alone. The size of the Lib Dem victory is all they await, plus formal confirmation of what they have apparently known since just before midnight, perhaps even earlier (though the first message saying this that I have found was timed then).

The word is that it's a big win (which fits in with my own prediction of either a narrow lead or a big one, but not a medium-size one) of "thousands rather than hundreds" as one source has put it. An update around 0130 hrs has put a nominal figure of circa 3,000 on this, though this was reduced to two thousand just twenty minutes later, presumably as a consequence of the larger UKIP score over the Conservatives (see below)..

There are indeed rumours of the Conservative candidate coming third, as a few commentators have been hinting might happen. If so, this will almost certainly turn out to be (also as others have said) an anti-'government' (as Conservative-led, and the Lib Dems also rejected) protest vote. It is the only credible explanation for UKIP coming from next to nowhere so suddenly.

That's okay: these things happen, and have done so for decades. The word at 0145 hrs is that UKIP might be around 500 votes ahead of the Conservative candidate. Later this was upped to around twice that number.

That would be a little sad if true, especially after the broadly good campaign that the Blue Team ran – though I do have reservations about the colouring of their last leaflet to look something like a UKIP one: it's not what I'd have liked if I had been standing, for example. I am sure that party people think it's all very clever and innovative, lateral thinking – but the voters are going to see it as trickery and  rather obvious attempted deception, perhaps even as a form of desperation. Wouldn't you, in their position?

It seems to have been only when that leaflet went out that the actual result shifted dramatically from what the polls have been indicating, and the Conservatives dropped from likely second place to actual third. There's a lesson in there, I strongly suspect...

Labour look like coming "a distant fourth" according to sources in Eastleigh. For decades their vote there was around 20% or so, dropping to just under half that at the 2010 General Election. Tonight's result is just as poor for them as it was in 2010, and it is even being rumoured that they have lost their deposit along with the numerous fringe parties/candidates. Perhaps Labour are becoming a fringe party themselves outside their heartlands. We should know over the next two General Elections, I think...

Meanwhile, by 0210 hrs the result is imminent, and initial percentage figures have the Lib Dems on 32%, UKIP on 28%, Conservatives at 25% and Labour on just 10%.

Anyway, at 0240 hrs, here are the full results for all fourteen (yes, 14 in the end!) candidates, with changes from last time...
  1. Mike Thornton (LibDem) 13,342 (32.06%, -14.48%)
  2. Diane James (UKIP) 11,571 (27.80%, +24.20%)
  3. Maria Hutchings (Con) 10,559 (25.37%, -13.96%)
  4. John O'Farrell (Lab) 4,088 (9.82%, +0.22%)
  5. Danny Stupple (Ind) 768 (1.85%, +1.56%)
  6. Dr Iain Maclennan (NHA) 392 (0.94%)
  7. Ray Hall (Beer, Baccy & Crumpet) 235 (0.56%)
  8. Kevin Milburn (Christian) 163 (0.39%)
  9. Howling Laud Hope (Official Monster Raving Loony) 136 (0.33%)
  10. Jim Duggan (Peace) 128 (0.31%)
  11. David Bishop (Elvis) 72 (0.17%)
  12. Michael Walters (Eng Dem) 70 (0.17%, -0.30%)
  13. Daz Procter (TUSC) 62 (0.15%)
  14. Colin Bex (Wessex Reg) 30 (0.07%)

(Lib Dem majority: 1,771)

Here's the BBC's video of the declaration...

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