Ukip and Eastleigh

As most readers of this blog likely know by now, there was a by-election in the UK last week. In the constituency of Eastleigh, the two governing partners, Conservative and Liberal Democrat went head to head. Except they didn’t. The UK Independence Party candidate finished in between them, in a close second. The LibDems held the seat, despite more than a 14-point swing against them.

The Labour candidate finished a distant fourth.

I see a couple of comments already have appeared at an earlier UK thread.

I will have more to say (I think) later on, but for now, here is an official discussion opportunity…

8 thoughts on “Ukip and Eastleigh

  1. So, on this topic… Ukraine abolishing single-member districts and moving to nationwide closed lists, eh! What do we think about that?

  2. @Tom: I blame Brussels for the STV weeds sprouting everywhere. We should have a referendum.

    Has the UKIP tried targeting particular constituencies (as the UK Greens have done), or is it just opportunistic? (I suspect there is more money behind them than the Greens, so one should probably expect the latter?)

  3. I blame Brussels for Obamacare. Each is equally the biggest threat to freedom since Lincoln abolished the right to private property in 1863.

    On a serious note, Cameron’s ‘Let’s have a referrendum, but I’ll campaign against it’ policy is absolutely insipid (far more so than his AV stance). It hasn’t drawn Eurosceptics back to the Conservatives, but it does make it less likely that Euro-philes will support him.

    The Conservatives have to be seriously regretting their position on AV right now. It wouldn’t have helped them here, but I think we may be seeing quite a few Con/Ukip splits in 2015. If Ukip holds this support, it’s a game changer: current ‘safe’ Con seats become three-way or four way marginals, and current marginals become safe Labour. Ukip also has all the momentum going into MEP elections next year (I would not at all be shocked to see them win there), and a 1st place showing would give them even more electoral credibility heading to general elections.

    It’s not likely Europe will get credit for any major successes by then (people don’t give credit merely for staving off default, as the Italian electorate showed Mr Monti last week), while there are dozens of opportunities for the EU to look bad, either as a pro-German bully or as someone who let a PIIGS default.

    If I’m Nick Clegg, I try to bring down the govt early nect year so that general and Euro elections are the same day. At best, the Euro elections help Ukip draw votes from Conservative, and constituencies like Eastleigh stay Liberal; at worst, the disaster they’re headed for in 2015 occurs a year early.

  4. I have my doubts that Eastleigh has very many Tories rethinking their opposition to AV.

    While the Conservative candidate might have won under AV, it is also possible that the LibDem would have won rather more convincingly. Evidently, the LibDem benefitted from some significant tactical voting by Labour, whose own candidate got basically the same vote share as in 2010.

    It is not hard to imagine Conservative voters being split between those who want a more right-wing Tory path, and hence would give second choices to Ukip, and those who would hold their nose and vote for their coalition partner, the LibDems. I can’t imagine many preferences would be exchanged between Labour and Conservative.

    We can’t know, obviously, but it just seems to me that both LibDem and Ukip would have gained under AV, though the latter almost certainly could not have won, as she almost did under FPTP.

    (Remember: important detail of AV as proposed in the UK was that voters would not have needed to rank all candidates, so a sub-majority victory still would have been possible–likely even.)

  5. @DC

    You are talking patent nonsense in and obvious and doomed attempt to divert us from realising the ever proliferating STV weeds are the work of the alien Grays from Zeta Reticuli.

  6. I don’t think this is interesting in terms of voting systems, but it has some interest for party politics.

    It indicates that the Liberal Democrats will probably survive the next election with some sort of parliamentary representation, despite the fact that the party is really unpopular right now. And that is fine for them (except for the current batch of MPs, most of whom will join the ranks of the unemployed in a couple of years). Participation in government meant exchanging current unpopularity -given the economic situation especially- for the better strategic position of having increased credibility in terms of being able to present to the voters a record (and combatting the “wasted vote” argument) and in terms of negotiations to take part in future coalitions. But they have to survive the next election to get to point where they can reap the strategic benefits.

    It also means that Labour is not close to winning back the southern English working class vote that it lost in 1974 (not the 1980s), even in a really favorable situation.

    And obviously the Tories are worried about UKIP -hence their recent activity on Europe- but this may turn out to be a flash in the pan. They do have a long term problem with Eastleigh type seats, they used to win these regularly until the 1990s, and if they had held onto the forty or so seats they had been losing to the Liberal Democrats they would not have needed the Liberal Democrats as a coalition partner.

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