James Forsyth

Huhne and the future of the Coalition

Huhne and the future of the Coalition
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The exposure of Chris Huhne’s affair could end up affecting the way the Coalition develops. At the last election, Huhne held his seats thanks to the loaned votes of Labour supporters; his literature emphasised how in Eastleigh the only way to keep the Tories out was to vote for him. His majority is 3,864 and the Labour vote there fell by 5,085.

Once Huhne went into government with the Tories, he was always going to lose most of these Labour-leaning votes at the next election. But he’ll now also probably lose the support of some voters who feel let down by his behaviour. All in all, it looks like Huhne will have a tough race to get back.

But if the Tories were understanding he would have a much easier time. After all, the Tories might not want to defeat someone they had sat in Cabinet with for five years. They might also think that it was worth building up their stocks of good-will in case of another hung parliament where the Lib Dems held the balance of power.

There are many forms this understanding could take. The Tories could select their candidate for Eastleigh late and not give the seat any extra marginal funding, Eastleigh is number 55 on a list of notional Tory target seats. . Or, they could go the whole hog and not field a candidate—a step that would move this from being a Coalition to an electoral pact.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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