Eastleigh was never going to be a Labour win, but it would have done a good deal better if people knew what Labour really stood for compared to the other parties, particularly on the economy. The one central issue on which all others turn is how to handle the deficit, yet here Labour continues to represent merely a pale shadow of Tory policy. There are still far too many senior figures from the discredited New Labour network (such as Patrick Diamond, former adviser to Blair-Brown, in the Guardian today) who continue to repeat the mantra of ‘financial discipline’ – as if we hadn’t had a bellyfull of this already from Osborne (and with 70% of cuts still to come) – yet with nothing but an imminent triple dip recession to show for it.
They show lip service to a growth strategy without giving any idea how it might seriously be achieved, since merely tweaking the Osborne cuts agenda – cutting less far, less fast – is just a recipe for economic decline, but a bit more slowly than the Tories. Continue reading
The result in Eastleigh may be a relief to the Lib Dems, but it is still a very bad result. How can losing more than 14% share of the vote be anything else? They may have won but, as the bleary eyed will have heard Prof John Curtice say after the announcement, it was with a lower share than anyone has won a by-election since the war. At the next general election, when Eastleigh voters wil be less minded to protest at the government and more focused on who should be in government, the Tories may well regain Eastleigh, as well as a number of other Tory/Lib Dem marginals – in line with the current national polls.
For the Tories the disaster is not so much losing, nor even coming third. After all, in the Mayoral election in Liverpool, a city in which they were in a majority i the Sixties, they came 7th. It is that they were beaten by UKIP. It is that the pressure on the Tory leadership to move rightwards will become relentless. That’s a no-win for Cameron, whatever he does. Continue reading
The Mail on Sunday, in a disgraceful smear on Labour’s candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, John O’Farrell, have grossly distorted words used in Things can only get better, his comic account of “eighteen miserable years in the life of a Labour supporter” under Thatcher and Major to claim that “he wished Margaret Thatcher had been murdered in the IRA attack on Brighton’s Grand Hotel.” Andrew Neill has since joined the attack.
O’Farrell’s book is in any case a piece of comedy, though it deals with serious issues – “the heartbreaking and hilarious confessions of someone who has been actively involved in helping the Labour Party lose elections at every level“. However, his words were not only taken out of that context but their meaning was also seriously distorted. Continue reading
As the self-nominated applicants to be Labour’s candidate in Eastleigh prepare to be interviewed by Labour’s shortlisting panel, John O’Farrell, author of Things Can Only Get Better and script-writer on such tremendous TV political comedy as Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You, seems to be the favourite. Since we need a candidate who can make an immediate impact in a very short campaign, we could do much worse. He’s clearly a principled candidate and no careerist. But whoever is the candidate, things can only get better if Labour gives everything it has to this campaign. Labour doesn’t even have to win to make significant progress, but for the Tories and Lib Dems, winning isn’t necessarily enough. And these are eight reasons why we can do well: Continue reading
Last time Nigel Farage stood in Eastleigh at a by-election, he languished on 1.7%, with only 169 votes more than Screaming Lord Sutch. That is surely little enough to persuade him not to have another go (though if he does, it will damage the Tories most). Labour, on the other hand came second to the Lib Dems with 27.6%, enough to make it worth putting serious effort into the contest this time.
Now that by-election was in 1994 in the wake of the tragic death of Stephen Milligan in what police described as an “autoerotic asphyxiation accident“. Involving suspenders, stockings, an electric flex and an orange, it helped John Major’s “Back to Basics” to its ignominious end and was a source of much Tory embarrassment in the by-election campaign,, when it was already trailing in the polls. Continue reading