• Lib Dems hold on to Eastleigh as Tories come third

    1st March 2013 | News | Claire
  • But the results will be a shock to the Tories, as they finished in third place, with UKIP coming second.

    BBC reports indicate that the Tories UKIP style candidate – the outspoken Maria Hutchings – was led quickly from the room before the media could interview her and are dismissing the results as a “protest vote.” 

    The BBC story is here and below: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21625726 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    The Liberal Democrats have won the Eastleigh by-election, with the UK Independence Party pushing the Conservatives into third place.

    The Lib Dems’ Mike Thornton, who held on to the Hampshire constituency for his party by 1,771 votes, promised to be a “strong voice” in Parliament.

    UKIP saw its best-ever performance in a Westminster poll. Leader Nigel Farage saying it was not a “freak result”.

    But the Conservatives dismissed UKIP’s showing as a “protest vote”.

    The by-election was called after former Lib Dem cabinet minister Chris Huhne resigned as an MP following an admission he had perverted the course of justice over driving licence points.

    ‘Superb record’
    But the party, which has held Eastleigh since another by-election in 1994, won despite a fall in its share of the vote of more than 14 percentage points since the 2010 general election.

    UKIP candidate Diane James got 11,571 votes, on a 19.3% swing from the Lib Dems.

    Conservative Maria Hutchings won 10,559 votes, representing a 14% reduction compared with her share of the vote at the general election, when she came second to Mr Huhne.

    Continue reading the main story
    The top five candidates

    Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat) 13,342
    Diane James (UKIP) 11,571
    Maria Hutchings (Conservative) 10,559
    John O’Farrell (Labour) 4,088
    Danny Stupple (Independent) 768
    Labour’s John O’Farrell was fourth with 4,088 votes.

    Lib Dem Mr Thornton, who has been a parish and borough councillor since 2007, said: “The people of Eastleigh recognise that the Liberal Democrats have always had a superb record of delivery, we’ve always listened to what people want, and we always make sure that we do a good job.”

    Asked about his priorities as a new MP, he said: “I do have a business background, so my main focus will be do bring investment, like we have in Eastleigh, and see how we can scale that up to the country.”

    UKIP’s Nigel Farage said the surge in support for his party was not a “freak result”, telling the BBC: “If the Conservatives hadn’t split our vote we would have won.”

    “Something is changing. People are sick and tired of having three social democrat parties that are frankly indistinguishable from each other,” he added.

    However, the Conservatives played down the significance of the result.

    Party chairman Grant Shapps said: “UKIP are the obvious protest vote in this election.”

    He denied that the Tory vote had “collapsed”, adding: “Really what we need to do is redouble our efforts, so that by the next general election we have a story to tell which is all about… how the Conservative Party is leading the charge to put us in the right place on the issues that really matter.”

    For Labour, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the party had increased its share of the vote “very slightly”. But he added: “This is not a target seat for us.”

    Turnout was 52.7%, down from 69.3% at the 2010 general election.

    Results in full:

    Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat) 13,342 (32.06%, -14.48%)

    Diane James (UKIP) 11,571 (27.80%, +24.20%)

    Maria Hutchings (Conservative) 10,559 (25.37%, -13.96%)

    John O’Farrell (Labour) 4,088 (9.82%, +0.22%)

    Danny Stupple (Independent) 768 (1.85%, +1.56%)

    Dr Iain Maclennan (National Health Action Party) 392 (0.94%)

    Ray Hall (Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party) 235 (0.56%)

    Kevin Milburn (Christian Party) 163 (0.39%)

    Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 136 (0.33%)

    Jim Duggan (Peace Party) 128 (0.31%)

    David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets) 72 (0.17%)

    Michael Walters (English Democrats) 70 (0.17%, -0.30%)

    Daz Procter (Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts) 62 (0.15%)

    Colin Bex (Wessex Regionalist) 30 (0.07%)