Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Contrarians




What are we to make of the fact that, a week from now, there is a 61% probability of the Liberals holding on to Eastleigh, and only a 28% possibility of the Tories winning it? What does it tell us about the national polls, the residents of Eastleigh, the local candidates?

Huhne received 46.5% of the vote in 2010, and the Tory candidate (standing again) got 39.3%.  The swing required for the Tories is a derisory 4%, and on the face of it, they would expect to get it. Huhne was a high-profile incumbent who disgraced himself and embarrassed the constituency who had trusted him. The new LibDem candidate doesn’t have the advantage of incumbent status, but does have the smelly legacy of Huhne’s dishonesty and arrogance. 

The Tory candidate is lower middle class, local, community-minded and speaks her mind on issues that encourage the Tory vote to mobilise itself – immigration, for instance (UKIP got 2,000 votes in 2010). She does not appear to be a loony. If turnout stays the same as 2010, she needs 2,000 out of the 25,000 who voted Huhne. The national polls tell us that the LibDem vote has halved, yet they seem odds-on to retain Eastleigh. What is going on?

Eastleigh, it is true, marches to the west with a Labour seat in Southampton (itself a Lab/Con marginal), but in every other direction they don’t count the Tory vote so much as weigh it. What makes Eastleigh a Liberal redoubt? Extraordinary to say, but Huhne must somehow have charmed the locals. For some reason, the residents of Chandler’s Ford, Botley and even, dammit, the Hamble don’t dig the Tories. It is inexplicable, really. OK, we know that funny Liberal enclaves manage to hold on for generations – Lewes, Cheltenham, Clement Freud’s Isle of Ely spring to mind – but they have done so because the MP wins trust and doesn’t humiliate his wife, his family, himself. Huhne has behaved appallingly, was on the left of his party, was a high priest of the ludicrous and dangerous Climate Change Religion, yet the LibDem vote is holding steady and may even increase. Are they merely contrarians?

I wish I could shine some light on this. I lived as a child for a couple of years on the northern boundary of this constituency. OK, that was the late 60s and times have changed. But the Itchen still flows southward, the trout thrive, the constituency is chocker with retired folk, the Hamble remains crammed with pleasurecraft.

My guess is this: the Conservative Party at grassroots is a shadow of its former self. Its voice no longer heard by the leadership, it cannot replace the volunteers and members who die or chuck the towel in each year. No longer synonymous with The Royal British Legion, the Golf Club, the Rotarians, the party has no effective organisational clout within this (or any) constituency.

They say that Cameron out-polls his party. Well, it’s time you proved it, Dave. Once you have finished in India, fly into Southampton Airport (I still call it Eastleigh out of habit), and remind the denizens that sound money, sound borders, liberty and aspiration exist only, amongst the larger parties, with The Conservatives. If you can’t win Eastleigh, you certainly can’t win a general election.

UPDATE:
Evidently Tory HQ thinks their candidate IS a loony. They are gagging her and hoping for a miracle.Quentin Letts, on the other hand, is in favour: "Boris was campaigning with the Tories’ candidate Maria Hutchings, a local mum who has a reputation for ‘plain speaking’. That is Westminster-speak for ‘gaffe-prone’, although at Westminster it’s a ‘gaffe’ if you say anything remotely right-wing. Mrs Hutchings (Eurosceptic, tough on benefits, crime, etc) seems thoroughly sensible to me".

12 comments:

Sound bawder said...

Sound borders? Ha ha I think you meant sound boarders as that what Dave is busy encouraging in Delhi.

Blue Eyes said...

Agree. I must avoid this becoming a habit.

I am one of the people who *should* be replacing the dying Tory activists.

But every time I interact with Tory activists I am underwhelmed. There are the uber-connected careerists politicians with slick hair and sharp suits. I feel no connection with them. Then there are the (usually retired, wealthy) loonies who think it's the state's job to ensure that everyone lives a clean safe suburban lifestyle.

Where are the striving liberal urban Tories like me? Where are the nice people?

Bill Quango MP said...

I think you're right and the foot soldiers aren't there.

Number 12 on the Tory take list.
Can't win number 12, then number 50 on the required winning list is just a fantasy seat.

Eastleigh's shape bears an uncanny resemblance to the former South Vietnam. Bursledon seems to be about where Saigon should be.
Eastleigh itself looks to be in the heart of VC territory, roughly where Khe Sanh is.

There's probably a Ho Chi Ming-Cambell trail of yellowy reds tunneling in from Portsmouth South.
{Another disgraceful red-yellow Lib Dem MP, who hasn't yet had his comeuppance.}

idle said...

Bawder, the country doesn't mind Indians coming here to study, or arriving as already-trained doctors and nurses (though why they would want to work in the NHS is a mystery).

What the country minds is the Roma and the Bulgar swanning in, like so many others before them, somehow (95% dodgily) getting a National Insurance number, and BINGO - you've got British welfare until the day you croak.

Blue Eyes, I can't answer you. The local association that I resigned from a couple of years ago was full of nice retired folk who had probably never had a discussion about policy in their lives.

I note from Guido, BQ, that the bearded lothario of Southsea is too ill to attend a hearing into wandering hands and youthful people.

Eastleigh as 'Nam...... a lost cause, then, but some decent movies may come out of it.

Thud said...

I'd like to know who is hiding up the Itchen as colonel Kurtz?

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"sound money, sound borders, liberty and aspiration exist ... with The Conservatives."

Just to say that is to provoke hilarity.

Sound money? 3% or so inflation and a promise that it'll soon be allowed to go higher.

Sound borders? EU anyone?

Liberty? Secret courts, the Snoopers' charter, and so on.

Aspiration? Mansion tax.

Need I go on.

The part formerly know as conservative is no longer anything of the sort, no wonder their voters are deserting them in droves.

You might as well vote for the Cleggerons, or the Ed Miller Band, the actual outcome will be exactly the same - more repression, more socialism, more stagnation, more inflation, more windmills, more Europe.

idle said...

WY - what I MEANT to say, was that sound money etc are only POSSIBLE with the Conservatives. I agree that current economic policy, immigration, etc etc is postmodern European social model consensus bullshit.

If the British public could have a blind tasting of Conservative MPs I suspect that only about three current ministers would survive and the entirety of the rest would be replaced by backbenchers.

There are good people in Westminster for the Tories, but Cameron and Osborne mean to stymie them.

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