Polls have now closed in the Eastleigh by-election, a seat made famous because of Chris Huhne’s transgressions.
It’s also the first by-election in living history where the three main political parties have made almighty cock-ups in their attempt to hold or gain the seat.
Labour never stood a chance because they needed a 19,000 vote turnaround and any political junkie will tell you those miracles only happen once in a blue moon unless you are George Galloway.
Yet the party picked a high-profile candidate in John O’Farrell, not quite political suicide but this was one fight Labour really ought to have stood in the corner and watched.
Meanwhile the Conservative’s desperate bid to give their coalition partners a bloody nose was dented
somewhat with the selection of Maria Hutchings.
Oh Maria, the only by-election candidate who did not appear at a hustings event and even said a state school education would not help son become a surgeon!
And what of the Lib Dems well their candidate did nothing wrong.....it was just the rest of the party imploded 10 days before the poll! Not helpful at all.
Current predictions are for a Lib Dem victory, UKIP second, Conservatives third and Labour fourth...
Meaning tomorrow you will wake up to either ‘Labour in crisis as they finish fourth’ or‘Tory revolt as party misses total open goal’.
Truth be told, none of it will be true. Look at the facts, every voter interviewed on TV couldn’t give a hoot about national issues, they want a nice MP to send to Westminster and good on them.
If Labour finish fourth then yes it won’t be a great night but remember in 2010 they were 19,000 votes behind the winners and came third, they were always the outsiders. In 1997, Labour won everywhere.....but still didn’t win in Eastleigh!
If the Tories don’t win then it should not spell crisis for David Cameron. Yes a win would be great but remember Eastleigh is the strongest of Liberal Democrat areas (the local council is dominated by them).
I suspect the problem could come if UKIP finish second, a prospect which frightens the Conservatives because of the potential impact at a general election.
But Eastleigh won’t be the ‘country rejecting austerity’ or ‘the last post for the coalition Government’, Cameron might need to grin and bear it but get on with being in Government.
Any Tory rebels who want to chance their arm and go after the PM after this result would do well to remember Redwood v Major, no the rebels didn’t win but they left the then PM wounded and beaten well before Blair finished him off in 1997.
With the Liberal Democrats having a ‘sex scandal without sex’ and Miliband not yet having truly won over the electorate, caution and discretion is needed in the Conservative party, not all out war.
Anyway, let’s see what the returning officer has to say.....