Nigel Farage shouldn’t get Ukip’s hopes up for a win in Portsmouth South

Talk of a by-election in Portsmouth South has been growing, fuelled by allegations against MP Mike Hancock. And, in a speech to the parliamentary press gallery lunch yesterday, Nigel Farage claimed Ukip could win it. The reasoning is simple: Ukip are on the up, and they came within 2,000 votes and 5 percentage points of a win in Eastleigh, so surely they can go over the top in another Hampshire by-election where the Lib Dem incumbent has had to step down amidst a scandal. Of course Ukip could win — but its chances may not be as high as that reasoning suggests. Indeed, Farage himself seems to think his party

Exclusive: Nick Boles to get roasting from No 10 over ‘rotten campaign’ comments

Nick Boles is getting a roasting in Number 10 tonight for his comments in The Times about the Eastleigh by-election, I understand. There was considerable disquiet about the interview, in which the Planning Minister said his party had run a ‘truly rotten campaign’ and failed to convey the modernisation message. “Where was the hope? It was as if modernisation had never happened. We screwed it up. We didn’t even screw up in a new way. We screwed it up in an old way that we have been doing for a decade. It’s so frustrating.” This was apparently Boles doing his own thing rather than a decision from the top that someone needed

Bloomberg will buy the Financial Times — but only if it jettisons The Economist

How much would you stump up for the Economist? Most of us would draw the line at a fiver, but I’m told that Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, is drawing the line at £300 million. Bloomberg is busy relocating to London and he’s poised to snap up the Financial Times later this year. But the Pink ’Un comes with a 50 per cent share in the Economist. And the small print conceals a pesky restrictive covenant that prevents the owner from replacing the editor. This is proving a drag for Bloomberg, who admires the Economist’s boss, John Micklethwait, but who sees little sense in buying a ship if he can’t

Isabel Hardman

‘We aren’t connecting with the electorate’: Michael Fabricant on the Tory election challenge

The only Tory more Tiggerish than Michael Fabricant is the party chairman Grant Shapps, and perhaps that’s why the two work so well together on campaigns. But even the jovial Conservative vice chairman is exhausted after the full-throttle Eastleigh by-election. Fabricant was shouted at in the street by a voter who, thinking he was a Lib Dem, harangued him about Chris Huhne, and one voter placed notice on a wheelie bin telling campaigners to dump their leaflets there, not through the letterbox. But in spite of that, from the glowing way he describes the campaign, you might be forgiven for thinking the Tories won it, or at least came second,

Will UKIP ever win?

A couple of reflections upon Eastleigh. Firstly it was indeed an appalling night for Labour; midterm the party came second in this constituency in the early 90s. It received the votes a joke candidate might expect this time around. Maybe that’s because they put a comedian in the seat. I have no objection to John O’Farrell’s writing at all; but maybe one reason for Labour’s failure – and probably not the most important – was his candidature. He is the sort of thing London Labour loves; metropolitan, cool, ever so witty. Ever so PC. Does any of that play outside the M25? I don’t think so. And the result would

‘We called quite a few dead people’: How the Tories’ lack of data let them down in Eastleigh

At 9.15pm, with 45 minutes until polls closed in the Eastleigh by-election, the ‘get out the vote’ telephone operation at Conservative Central Headquarters stopped. As one fellow volunteer put it, it was so late in the day that we were just ‘pissing people off’. Having been there all day, I’d had that feeling for several hours, as voter after voter spoke of the harassment they had received during the Eastleigh campaign from all of the major parties. By the early evening we were calling people who not only had received several calls already that day to remind them to vote, as well as one or two visits to their doorstep,

Eastleigh by-election: Four points from Ashcroft’s exit poll

The result might be in, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing useful polls can tell us about the Eastleigh by-election. What swayed the voters? Why did they vote as they did? And — perhaps of most interest — how might they vote next time? Yesterday, Lord Ashcroft’s polling operation phoned 760 Eastleigh residents, 654 of whom had voted in the by-election. All sorts of warning labels need slapping across the figures: they aren’t weighted, so are subject to a much higher risk of selection bias than other polls, and even if the sample were representative and random, the margin of error would be 3.5 points (and higher for subsets of

James Forsyth

Eastleigh by-election live blog

12am: The word from the count is the Liberal Democrats have held Eastleigh. Intriguingly, the Liberal Democrats think UKIP have taken second. Labour appear set for a poor fourth. If the Tories have come third with the Lib Dems holding the seat, David Cameron’s Tory critics will have a field-day tomorrow. 12.20am A source at the count tells Coffee House that UKIP appear to have won more votes today than any other party. But the Liberal Democrats will win thanks to their huge lead on postal votes 12.50am Tim Farron is trying to play down expectations. But revealingly he says that a Lib Dem win would be a game changer

James Forsyth

Lib Dems hold Eastleigh as UKIP force Tories into third

It was a successful night for the Liberal Democrats in Eastleigh and a disastrous one for the Tories. The Liberal Democrats held on with a majority a touch over 1,700. While the Tories came third, polling more than a thousand votes behind UKIP who surged in to second place. Labour had nothing to cheer either, coming a poor fourth—a result that makes it hard for Ed Miliband to claim they are a ‘one nation’ party. There’ll be three immediate political consequences of this result. First, Nick Clegg’s position is strengthened. Holding the seat with a majority of more than a thousand, demonstrates that the Liberal Democrats are not in the

Isabel Hardman

Move to the right? The Tories need to worry about anti-politics voters too

So in the end Eastleigh went for the ‘crisis for Cameron’ option by putting the Tories in third behind UKIP. For those opponents of the Prime Minister, last night’s result represents a line through another one of their ‘five key tests’ for his leadership. I understand that those close to Adam Afriyie already expect the backbencher to make a number of interventions over the next few months which they hope will cement him as a serious voice speaking out against the Tory leadership, and even those who aren’t are mulling over how the party should change its strategy. The inevitable reaction, and one every commentator and opposition MP is just

Isabel Hardman

Eastleigh result: the Tories aren’t panicking, but that doesn’t mean they won’t

Don’t panic, don’t panic! But are the Tories actually panicking about the Eastleigh result? Coffee House readers will have seen Stewart Jackson’s call on the government to get more robust on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, and Gavin Barwell’s plea to his colleagues to stay calm. But backbenchers aren’t really flapping their arms in terror today, other than taking positions we’ve already heard them take. Even backbenchers who really don’t like David Cameron are clear that even though coming third is ‘deeply disappointing’, it’s not a catalyst for disaster right now. But that doesn’t mean Cameron’s opponents don’t have some sort of vision of how the next few months could pan

Don’t panic: the Tories can do better than Eastleigh

There’s no disguising the fact that last night’s result was a very disappointing one for Conservatives. There were three small crumbs of comfort. First, the poor performance of Labour, our only realistic rivals in terms of winning the next Election. The opinion polls say Labour are doing 12 or 13 percentage points better than they did at the last Election, but on the ground in Eastleigh they increased their share of the vote by just 0.22 per cent. In the 1994 Eastleigh by-election, held before Tony Blair was elected Leader, Labour came second with 27.6% of the vote.  Yesterday, they managed fourth place with just 9.8% of the vote, suggesting – as

Eastleigh by-election: a bad day for Labour too

While the Tories are taking a public beating for their performance in Eastleigh, Labour also have little to be proud of. Despite the party currently floating around 11 points ahead of the Tories in the national polls, they only managed to add 0.2 points to their 2010 general election result and came in fourth place. Their candidate John O’Farrell blames voters being anti-politics, not anti-Labour. Either way, the result is disappointing for Ed Miliband. Although it was unlikely Labour would ever take the seat, the party still threw its weight behind a full campaign. Lord Ashcroft’s latest polling suggests Labour were putting in similar effort to the main contenders. 89

Eastleigh by-election: The Tories are suffering for gay marriage, and need to focus on migrants and a cost of living budget

It would be churlish to suggest that the Eastleigh by-election is ‘disastrous’, but coming third in a seat we polled almost 40 per cent in the general election is not good by anyone’s measure. This is the price that has to be paid for gay marriage because of the drastic unpopularity of it with activists and supporters, who have been less inclined to get out and campaign on the streets because of it. The issue has been a direct recruiting seargeant for UKIP, and there’s anecdotal evidence across the country for UKIP. There are two main lessons for me from this result. The first is that the government has to

Eastleigh: the different results and what they’d mean

So now that the polls have closed in Eastleigh, here are the likely scenarios for tonight’s Eastleigh by-election result, and what each combination will mean: A) 1. Tories 2. Liberal Democrats 3. UKIP It’s stating the obvious that this is the best outcome for David Cameron, showing that the Tories can win in those target Lib Dem seats, and that they can beat a confident UKIP, no matter what grumpy backbenchers say. But it’s a disaster for Nick Clegg: in fact, any scenario other than victory is a disaster for Nick Clegg. For Nigel Farage, coming third when his party has been so confident, particularly in the last 24 hours,

PMQs sketch: Miliband has ‘one of those days’

What a strange PMQs. The house seemed half empty. The tug of elsewhere dominated proceedings. Richard Drax asked the prime minister if ‘prospective members of parliament’ should ever speak in support of terrorism.  David Cameron took this cue to rebuke John O’Farrell. Labour’s candidate at Eastleigh has admitted to feeling ‘a surge of excitement’ when he learned that the IRA had nearly assassinated Mrs Thatcher in the Brighton bomb. Cameron asked Ed Miliband to condemn his candidate. Miliband refused. ‘If he wants me to answer questions I’ll swap places any time.’ Miliband’s aim today was to turn the triple-A downgrade into a government-breaking issue. It didn’t work. A well-rehearsed Cameron

Labour are the real losers in Eastleigh

The Lib Dems are still on course to hold Eastleigh. Despite the loss of Britain’s AAA credit rating and the unfurling Rennard scandal, Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll today puts their candidate Mike Thornton on 33 per cent. Tory candidate Maria Hutchings is lagging five points behind on 28 per cent while Ukip are a little further behind with 21 per cent. Disappointingly for Ed Miliband, the Labour party’s celebrity candidate John O’Farrell is coming in with just 12 per cent. This confirms two things. Firstly, the by-election is only about local politics. As we discussed on last week’s View from 22 podcast, Chris Huhne has barely been mentioned on the doorstep. From the start,

Alex Massie

Small By-Election in Hampshire; Not Many Dead

By-elections are catnip for the media. But they are also, almost invariably, subject to greater scrutiny than they can reasonably bear. Only occasionally do they herald a new era or political realignment. Eastleigh is unlikely to prove an exception to that general rule. True, as Brother Payne suggests, Labour’s likely dismal showing may demonstrate that Ed Miliband’s still struggling to “connect” with southern voters but – though as a Miliband Sceptic it pains me to say so –  I’m not sure we should make too much of this. Similarly, UKIP’s good showing is likely to be over-interpreted too. So, for that matter, will the Conservatives’ (predicted) failure to win the

How will the Rennard allegations affect the Eastleigh by-election?

What effect will the Rennard allegations have on the Eastleigh by-election? Channel 4 has been working on the story for months, but it is obviously taking off at an inconvenient time for the Liberal Democrats. There is also – for both Coalition parties, although particularly for the Tories because this was a key pledge for George Osborne – the problem of the AAA credit rating loss. But don’t forget that the by-election was triggered by Chris Huhne’s ‘guilty’ plea for perverting the course of justice, and in spite of repeated references in Conservative campaign material to ‘trust’, Huhne appears to have had little effect on the by-election. One Conservative MP