Coffee House

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

25 February 2013

12:15 PM

25 February 2013

12:15 PM

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 I spoke to about the Rennard scandal over the weekend suspects it may have similar limited impact on the Lib Dems. ‘They’re a bit like cockroaches: we can’t get rid of them with Huhne, and we can’t get rid of them with these ‘sex pest’ stories, either.’ This says a fair bit about Tory MPs’ faith in their own party’s Eastleigh campaign, too.

It may well be that the local battles on greenfield development and a gravel pit end up holding more sway than a national issue.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Barbara Stevens

    I just hope the people of Eastleigh do us all a favour and don’t vote for any of the mainsteam parties. We can’t kick them up the backside but that would be just as good. I hope they vote for a complete change and vote UKIP, this countries only salvation.

  • ButcombeMan

    The Rennard fiasco will probably hurt Clegg personally more than it hurts the LibDems generally.. Even the bent money from Michael Brown (Not paid back) did not really stick to the LibDems. The public have short memories and attention spans.

    Clegg appears not to have acted at all when he should have acted robustly, is anyone surprised?

    He always looks like someone who has difficulty grasping nettles and taking difficult decisions.

    His pained expression, most of the time, shows what he is. His body language is that of an ace ditherer.

    Unsuitable to lead.

  • Russell

    Try as you may Isobel, even with Renard allegations and AAA downgrading, your beloved Miliband and Labour are going to be humiliated at this election, even UKIP are polling well ahead of the nastiest party with the ‘nasty’ candidate.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Huhne polled 46.5% of the vote share in 2010. Now the Libdems are polling around 30%. Losing one third of your vote in what is now considered one of the Libdems strongholds (they gained seats in recent council elections and control every ward in the parliamentary constituency at local level) has to be down to something surely?

    The Tories vote share is also down (by around one sixth), Labour are marginally up by a couple of points but UKIP are up by. a massive 600-700% (or 17 points). Its a plague on all your houses attitude. The events of the weekend are only likely to further amplify such attitudes. Nigel Farage and co must be feeling quite pleased this morning..

    Could it be Isabel is now trying to play down UKIP possibilities in the constituency?…

    • Tom Tom

      I hope Grillo gets to stand in Eastleigh

  • John Smith

    Lets hope the Lib Dems lose and UKIP are given a chance to show what they can do

    Sign this petition to restrict Bulgarian and Romanians from entering the UK:

  • CharlietheChump

    Still looks like a Libdem hold, the Tories just cant match them on campaigning and now Ashcrofts had enough too.

  • Archimedes

    True, but this will have a longer term effect on the LibDem image. It will be much easier to make mud stick to the LibDems than it has been in the past, because they can no longer be the clean politics party. That’s probably going to be bad for the Conservatives though, because it takes the LibDems further from being able to recover the voters they’ve lost to Labour. This might make it close to impossible to bring the Labour vote below 40% for a long time.

    • Tom Tom

      Why do you need Labour when you have Cameron ?

      • Archimedes

        I don’t know.

      • Mombasa69

        No to another Labour Government thanks, we’re still paying the price for their 13 years of total mismanagement and over-spending, Osborne has only reduced spending by 1.6%, Government Spending is still at insane levels, Labour would be be a total disaster for the UK if they get in again, imagine what they’d do, would make Osborne look like a total skin-flint.

        • Tom Tom

          Did you read what i wrote or did you simply say what you wanted to say ?

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      “Clean politics party” ! The Lib Dems play dirty and always have as Stephen Glover points out today over on the Daily Mail.

    • Austin Barry

      The LibDem paradox is that they never were the clean politics party, however much they continue to assert the lie. Thorpe, Oaten, Smith, Laws, Huhne and, if the allegations have any substance, Rennard reveal the sickness and corruption hiding behind the endless stream of pieties and holier-than-thou platitudes.

      Whether the LibDems win in Eastleigh is irrelevant. They will be launched into historical obscurity at the next general election. Good riddance.

      • Archimedes

        “They will be launched into historical obscurity at the next general election.”

        I don’t think so. The funny thing is how many social conservatives now privately hate the Tories – in particular Cameron. They’re losing fiscal credibility, and more importantly because of the previous point, they’ve lost a huge amount of people that would come out and vote for fiscal prudence – in other words, the tribal core vote. People that would previously have defended a government of Conservative Etonians, now see Etonians as liberal elites with no idea of what’s going on in the real world. It’s going to be very difficult for the Conservatives to maintain turnout at the next election – the “shy tories” will fail to appear, which leaves a number of seats up for grabs by the LibDems. None of that even takes into account the pressure from the UKIP vote.

        You have one type of person who will never vote Conservative, because the Conservative party means Thatcher, and everything they hated about her, and you have another type of person who will refuse to vote in an act of incandescent rage, and a third type of person who will vote UKIP just to spite Cameron. That leaves a lot to play for for the other parties.

        • MirthaTidville

          Or the Conservatives could just get rid of Cameron…now that would be a game changer

          • Archimedes

            It would still be tricky. Cameron has really isolated the right-wing vote. In order to regain the right, you would have to have an act of good will, which means a very right-wing policy stance that is going to isolate you from the centre vote. The same is true of the centre – you have to have an act of good will to gain it, which isolates you from the right-wing core vote. The latter is what Cameron has been trying to do, but I just don’t see it playing through, because the center is opposed to Conservatism on a fiscal level, not a social level. The party, with or without Cameron, is stuck between a rock and hard place.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Is it really the “right wing vote” or is it “not the socialists” vote? The whole political landscape has veered left since 1997.

              • Archimedes

                In my view, it’s the “small-c conservative” vote. At the fringes there is, of course, a marginal “extreme right-wing” vote, but that’s not something that should be chased by the Conservative party.

          • Tom Tom

            They have had Cameron for 8 years and he is the longest-serving Tory Leader since Thatcher………someone chose him

        • AnotherDaveB

          Post 2015 the LDs will be competing with UKIP and the Greens for ‘the protest vote’.

          • Archimedes

            I think it will be some time before the LDs will be able to compete for the protest vote again. People will be wary of hung parliaments, and I think it’s questionable whether or not they will want the LDs to be the kingmaker in that scenario again. On the positive side, UKIP might be able to pick up fair amounts of the Labour vote post 2015.