Apologies for my absence – had a week’s holiday, somewhere distant from thunderstorms and snow. Coming back last night on an Oman Airlines flight, in cattle class, the air stewardess trolley babe asked me which of the two set hot meals of stewed shit I would prefer. I told her that I didn’t really fancy either, please could I just have some cheese and crackers? She replied, and I quote: ‘There is cheese and biscuits in the first class and business class sections, but not for people like you.’

So, Eastleigh, then – and what an appalling showing by Labour, if the polls are to be believed. It is true that Labour has never done terribly well in the constituency, despite the fact that at least one of the previous Tory incumbents was discovered to have wanked himself to death with a mandarin in his mouth and a pair of tights around his neck, behaviour which is often frowned upon by the electorate even in Hampshire.

Oddly, this time around, the Tory voters seem to have blamed the Liberals for the impotence of the coalition and the Lib Dem voters have blamed the Tories. The surprise is that so few are apparently sufficiently disenchanted to throw their lot in with either UKIP – which although it seems to be coming third has not made the sort of waves some expected – or indeed Labour. The biggest surprise is that the Lib Dem vote has held up so well. I wonder where the UKIP support is coming from? The Tories, one supposes. But if the outcome resembles these polling figures it slightly alters my view of the catastrophe awaiting Clegg and Co next time around. And notions of a Labour resurgence seem to be wishful thinking on my part.

Tags: Conservatives, Eastleigh by-election 2012, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP