Coffee House

Maria Hutchings says what she thinks. But is she thinking what Eastleigh voters are thinking?

19 February 2013

10:24 AM

19 February 2013

10:24 AM

One of the key strands of the Conservative campaign in Eastleigh is trust: not just because campaigners can remind voters about Chris Huhne, but thanks to a contrast they can draw between Maria Hutchings and Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton. The party’s latest poster underlines this: it accuses the Lib Dems of ‘facing both ways on development’ and contrasts quotes from Thornton on protecting green spaces and his voting record.

The bottom of the poster says: ‘Maria Hutchings has consistently campaigned with local residents against these developments.’


I’ve already grumbled about how silly it is for the two Coalition parties to be scrapping not just over agreed Coalition policy but also over something that will help those aspirational young families in Eastleigh afford to live in the constituency. But the Tories clearly believe in marketing Hutchings as a straight-talker, even when that straight talker is honest about things most politicians tend to mumble about, like her opinions on private schools, or disagreeing with her party leader on the EU. Their point is that at least you know what this candidate is thinking.

The trouble is that currently the odds suggest Eastleigh residents aren’t necessarily thinking what the Tories are thinking in this by-election. The bookies’ implied odds today have the Lib Dems on 61%, and the Tories on 28%. If the Lib Dems do win the seat, it will be interesting to watch the post-match analysis in the Tory party. The media will call it a ‘blow to Cameron’, but there could well be some soul-searching about the selection process, too.

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Show comments
  • Nic Liddle

    Open Letter to the Electorate of Eastleigh

    I was born in Eastleigh, which explains why I have been thinking about the town’s decision on their next MP. I’m not a member or active supporter of any political party, I’m semi-retired with a little time to think about these things. If I were there now I
    would vote Liberal Democrat for a whole range of reasons. I have often voted Lib Dem in my life because I see them as a party of sensible, practical people with sensible policies, largely free of extreme views and extreme personalities.

    I think it’s possible one day to have a Lib Dem government, and the way to get there is by the party gaining government experience which leads to credibility which leads to more experience in a virtuous circle. The current coalition is the first step on that road, and I think it’s a huge credit to the Lib Dems that they have got some policies through, swallowed some difficult pills, and made that coalition work. I do believe they are a significant moderating influence on the Conservatives. Of course there have been some policy reverses and failures, and that’s the harsh reality of governing rather than opposing. Has any single party, let alone a coalition, been able (or even willing) to implement all of their manifesto when elected? I think not, and what’s most important is that a party in government sticks to its principles and heads in the right direction whilst adjusting to and accommodating economic and social realities.

    You may feel let down by the last MP you had – it is certainly frustrating how many elected people can be effective in their job and yet have serious personal flaws that call their ability and integrity into question. I would simply suggest you don’t let a failed individual affect your judgement of the party or their successor.

    If I were in Eastleigh now I would vote Liberal Democrat.

  • ben corde

    We too will be voting UKIP now and in the future. The Lib/Lab/Cons have betrayed the UK consistently for too long. They cannot be trusted on the economy, public services, crime and immigration, energy or any other aspect of domestic or foreign affairs. At least our consciences will be clear.

  • Frank Kirkham

    Well done Tom Tom. The debate was going well until you turned up with Godwin’s Law. For what it matters I would suggest that this Tory candidate should become the blueprint for all Tory candidates. You don’t beat the Yellow peril by out whinging them. I for one will be voting UKIP unless the Tory in my seat is a “proper” Tory !

    • ArchiePonsonby

      My own gut feeling is that if UKIP don’t poll well in relatively leafy Eastleigh then we are truly done for!

  • andagain

    also over something that will help those aspirational young families in Eastleigh afford to live in the constituency.

    Tell me again how much the Tories care about aspirational young families.

  • UlyssesReturns

    One of the curses of a democracy is that an idiot’s vote is just as valid as yours or mine (well mine anyway). I seriously cannot fathom the mind of anyone who would vote for your typical incompetent, mendacious labour candidate, with the possible exception of Kate Hoey or Frank Field or even Tony Benn who, though mad, was at least a conviction politician, I have the same lack of understanding of the minds of libtards and how the good voters of Eastleigh ever elected that scumbag Huhne is totally beyond me. The idea that the choice between: an intelligent woman who wants the best for her bright son, a typical two-faced libtard, a labour comedian who advocated the death of the most revered PM in living memory at the hands of IRA terrorists, or your usual UKIP one-issue no-hoper, could go any way other than the election of the Conservative candidate is extraordinary. The fact that Ms Hardman is taking an anti-tory line is no surprise to me at all; the fact that the Spectator has not come down hard on the egregious labour-luvvie John O’Farrell whilst peddling this bollocks is.

    • Tom Tom

      “the Spectator has not come down hard on the egregious labour-luvvie John
      O’Farrell” …………..He is one of the NUJ Chapel and might be able to get Isabel a full-time job

      • UlyssesReturns

        Indeed, dogs don’t bite bitches, or vice versa?

        • telemachus

          How offensive

    • telemachus

      An idiot’s vote is yours not mine
      I would take steps to remove the the revanchists from the electoral

  • Oliver Burgess

    completely agree with your analysis.

    so much for a clean campaign – and indeed a campaign for local people. it’s got grant shapps slimy fingerprints all over it.

  • HooksLaw

    How do bookies odds equate to percentages in polls? it may be 100% certain that the LDs will win, even if that win is by one vote.

    It is surely good politics as well as good practice to expose a candidate for hypocrisy and this is surely even better if you are in a coalition because it avoids the need for discussing policy.

    There is only one purpose to this post – that is to undermine the conservative party. This seems quite remarkable since only the conservative party has any hope of fulfilling the aspirations of what the Spectator claims it stands for.

    • AnotherDaveB

      There was an allegation that Chris Huhne placed large bets on himself to win the last LD leadership contest, to generate “Huhne bookies favourite” headlines.

    • Russell

      As are almost every one of Isabels ‘articles’, well, either anti-conservative or waffling on about splits between the coalition.

    • Makroon

      “what the spectator claims it stands for” – what is that actually ?

      I presume – survival, and a decent return for the proprietors ?

  • Russell

    Nothing silly in pointing out to the electorate that your opponent is two-faced on a local interest matter. Imagine what he would do if elected as an MP and voting in the HoC.

    • telemachus

      Unseamly do you not think to be slinging mud at your coalition partner

      • Russell

        The idiot Thornton is not a coalition partner, he is an opponent candidate in this election, and a two faced one at that. Of course Conservative candidates will fight against all their opponents in every election just as much as they will fight Labour or UKIP.
        You really don’t understand politics at all do you? Different parties have different policies and fight each other to win seats. Coalition governments on the other hand are meant to work together on the policies they both can agree to. This coalition has generally worked together apart from the total betrayal by the LibDems on boundary changes, where after getting the ‘draft’ bill put forward as they agreed, they reneged on their part to support the boundary changes.

        • telemachus

          What I understand is that the Tories are underhand in Eastleigh as in the coalition
          They reneged on the House of Lords and are now treading a fine line on Europe
          They are a bunch of second hand car salesmen

          • Russell

            You really are a died in the wool labour numpty.
            The Tories delivered exactly what they promised and both parties signed up to in the coalition agreement wrt The House of Lords reforms. Try out some reading skills and read the coalition agreement.

            • telemachus

              I did
              They reneged
              I would not trust them with a beef sandwich

  • Rob Broome

    If they win, they win. If they lose, Cameron can rightly go to the backbenchers and show them that having UKIP-lite candidates doesn’t work and pull the party slightly back to the centre. Labour and the Libdems are shifting leftwards, the vacuum is there. With the in/out referendum part of the next manifesto UKIP are an irrelevance.

    • Vulture

      Are you crazy? This is the most wrong-headed political analysis I’ve ever read! We already have two left-wing political parties, so let’s have a third. Yeah, right…

      With a new tsunami of Balkan immigrants about to swamp us, the economy still in the doldrums, and the EU encroaching yet further on the last shreds of our freedom and independence UKIP have never been more relevant – or more popular, as the Eastleigh result will reveal.

      We can only hope that the Conservative defeat is comprehensive enough for the gutless Tories to lose all hope of winning with Dave in 2015, & finally summon up the guts to get rid of Cameron and the metropolitan liberal clique that has hi-jacked the party, and give us back our country. Now that really would be a popular policy.

      • Rob Broome

        Who said anything about left? I was saying CENTRE-right. Too many have been advocating a shift rightwards. That will lose vast swathes of voters who, while not naturally Tories, are pragmatists. UKIP have become the Tories very own ‘militant tendency’. The fact that Cameron (one of only two people with a chance of being PM in 2015) has offered the in/out referendum UKIP want above all else yet their actions will lead to Europhilic Labour and Libdem candidates winning seats and stopping that referendum is ludicrous. Do UKIP want the change they exhort or is it just the power they crave. Their position is now farcical.

        • Grrr8

          The last question is spot on.

        • SchizoidMan

          First they ignore you.
          Then they attack you.

          The Tories are a liberal socialist party now, with
          but a thin sliver of difference btween the LibLabCon.

          CaMoron will never offer a referendum, and states he believes we should stay in the EU and would
          campaign for that.

          The Tories are totally out of touch with public feeling on this, and will continue to haemorrhage votes to Ukip until there is a fundamental change to current leadership and values.

          That may take several elections / decades on current form.

          • Rob Broome

            Of course he will offer a referendum. Were he to not his own party would remove him faster than you can say1922. So he campaigns to stay in…big deal, Out is currently more likely if polls are believed, I know I’d be voting to leave but I also know that without the Tories there’s not even going to be a referendum because Labour and the Libdems would drown themselves in the Thames before allowing one.

            And insult Cameron all you like, he’s more popular with the electorate than his party (as he was in 2010) and a bigger vote winner than anyone UKIP could put forward. But by all means vote UKIP, then watch as reality bites and the Europhiles take over again and we go back to ‘Ever Closer Union’

            • SchizoidMan

              you seem like a nice chap,but you are deluded if you think CaMoron or the conservatives will ever take us out of the EU with the present team running the party.

              CaMoron is a committed and signed up europhile, for being a good boy he is expecting a nice EU job on £400,000 pa plus expenses and all tax free when this horrible experience that is being an MP is all over…

              CaMoron is a liar and cannot be trusted.

              just look at CaMorons appalling performance in India this week, easy visas for all and embarrassed by claims of bribery. The indians showed what they really think of us. CaMoron was a fricking joke and a disgrace.

              Ukip are the only party who can be trusted to take us out of the EU, they are the only party with some morals and substance. They are the only party with conservative values who will save this country from self destruction.

    • Ron Todd

      They might argue that UKIP-lite is not UKIP enough.

      • hereward

        LibLabCon . Democracy-lite . LOL .

      • Rob Broome

        Really? I can’t really see where Maria Hutchings would be massively out of step with UKIP, policy-wise. She could’ve just as easily been their candidate…except she actually has an outside shot of winning the seat.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          And once elected the pretense would go out of the window as she cosied up to the Whips to curry favour for a Ministerial post!

    • ArchiePonsonby

      You honestly believe that we’ll get a referendum, even if – against current odds – Cameron is still leading the so-called Tories?

  • AnotherDaveB

    Those bookies odds are set by a very small number of betters, in a small market. I’d be surprised if 5% of them were Eastleigh residents.

    There have only been two polls published. One had the Tories ahead, one had the LDs ahead.,_2013#Polling

  • Tom Tom

    As if Elections count for much……reflect on who wrote the following:

    “Those people are always influenced by one and the same preoccupation
    when they introduce something new into their programme or modify something
    already contained in it. That preoccupation is directed towards the results of
    the next election. The moment these artists in parliamentary government have
    the first glimmering of a suspicion that their darling public may be
    ready to kick up its heels and escape from the harness of the old party wagon
    they begin to paint the shafts with new colours. On such occasions the party
    astrologists and horoscope readers, the so-called ‘experienced men’ and
    ‘experts’, come forward. For the most part they are old parliamentary
    hands whose political schooling has furnished them with ample experience. They
    can remember former occasions when the masses showed signs of losing
    patience and they now diagnose the menace of a similar situation arising.

    Resorting to their old prescription, they form a ‘committee’. They go around among
    the darling public and listen to what is being said. They dip their noses
    into the newspapers and gradually begin to scent what it is that their
    darlings, the broad masses, are wishing for, what they reject and what they are
    hoping for. The groups that belong to each trade or business, and even office
    employees, are carefully studied and their innermost desires are investigated. The
    ‘malicious slogans’ of the opposition from which danger is threatened
    are now suddenly looked upon as worthy of reconsideration, and it often
    happens that these slogans, to the great astonishment of those who originally
    coined and circulated them, now appear to be quite harmless and indeed are to
    be found among the dogmas of the old parties.

    So the committees meet to revise the old programme and draw
    up a new one.

    For these people change their convictions just as the soldier changes his
    shirt in war – when the old one is bug-eaten. In the new programme
    everyone gets everything he wants. The farmer is assured that the interests of
    agriculture will be safeguarded. The industrialist is assured of protection for his
    products. The consumer is assured that his interests will be protected in the
    market prices. Teachers are given higher salaries and civil servants will have
    better pensions. Widows and orphans will receive generous assistance from the
    State. Trade will be promoted. The tariff will be lowered and even the taxes,
    though they cannot be entirely abolished, will be almost abolished. It
    sometimes happens that one section of the public is forgotten or that one of the
    demands mooted among the public has not reached the ears of the party. This is
    also hurriedly patched on to the whole, should there be any space available
    for it: until finally it is felt that there are good grounds for hoping that the whole normal host of philistines, including their wives, will have their
    anxieties laid to rest and will beam with satisfaction once again. …….

    When the election day is over and the parliamentarians have held their last
    public meeting for the next five years, when they can leave their job of
    getting the populace to toe the line and can now devote themselves to
    higher and more pleasing tasks – then the programme committee is dissolved
    and the struggle for the progressive reorganization of public affairs becomes
    once again a business of earning one’s daily bread, which for the parliamentarians means merely the attendance that is required in order to be able to draw their daily remunerations. Morning after morning the honourable deputy wends his way to the House, and though he may not enter the Chamber itself he gets at least as far as the front hall, where he will find the register on which the names of the deputies in attendance have to be inscribed. As a part of his onerous service to his constituents he enters his name,and in return receives a small indemnity as a well-earned reward for his unceasing and exhausting labours…….”

    • HooksLaw

      Whats your point? Are you proposing totalitarianism? Or invading Poland?

      Do you really think we or anyone should take any notice of the self serving rubbish spouted by Adolf Hitler. Your choice of source merely emphasises why we should be grateful for democracy

      • Tom Tom

        Yes we should be grateful for “Democracy”. When can we have some ? So far we have a Party Dictatorship run by Elites serving Self-Interest. Read for instance Buchanan as outgoing head of OFGEM about Energy Crises after 2015… HooksLaw – you guarantee us Energy Supplies because it is a damned sight COLDER and DARKER in Northern latitudes

        • Makroon

          Buchanan – appointed by Blair, kept fairly schtum for ten years, then on retirement had a go at Labour and predicted doom and gloom for the UK. Yawn.
          How much is he paid again ?

  • The Red Bladder

    Have electors, anywhere, ever, been faced with such an array of comedians and only one of them gets paid for being funny!