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 suggest I’m right. Ed needs to grasp the hand of Maurice Glasman a little more tightly.
Second; the Rennard stuff was of absolutely no consequence, was it? It did not play. Nobody cared. I suspect that beyond the M25 most people think the whole business is an absurdity and a staggering irrelevance. Women as well as men.
Thirdly – as a caveat to the press hailing UKIP’s success (and of course they did very well). Will they ever actually win? This was the time, and the place. As Primo Levi once said; if not now, when? They are still a conduit for the pissed off protest voters; it is to Farage’s credit that these people are now drawn from all three major parties, rather than just the Tories. But can they ever be more than that?