The Lesson from Eastleigh: When the Tories move rightwards their voters flock to Ukip

The relegation of the Conservative Party to third place in the Eastleigh by-election puts further pressure on the Conservative leadership to move to the Right. Yet the lesson of Eastleigh is that when it does so its voters flock to Ukip.

The relegation of the Conservative Party to third place in the Eastleigh by-election puts further pressure on the Conservative leadership to move to the Right.

The problem is that, much like when the Labour Party moved to the Left in the early 1980s, the result when the Tories stray from the centreground is that the party hemorrhages votes.

The reasons why Cameron is under such pressure to move to the Right are understandable, even if they are wrongheaded.

George Osborne’s economic Plan A is failing miserably even on its own terms.

Add to that the fact that Ed Miliband is beginning to up his game in terms of policy as well as presentation; and the inconvenient fact that David Cameron has never won a General Election, and you get the feeling that Conservative central office is a tad apprehensive right now.

It must also be tempting for the Conservative Party to hand more powers to Lynton Crosby, “the Australian Karl Rove” who was the brains behind the electoral domination of John Howard’s right-wing Australian Liberal Party in the late nineties and early noughties, forgetting perhaps that it was Crosby who also presided over British Conservative leader Michael Howard’s disastrous “are you thinking what we’re thinking?” campaign in 2005.

The encouraging irony for Labour, however, is that despite mainstream political assumptions that it is a vote winner to tack to the Right on issues such as immigration and Europe, evidence from Eastleigh, where Tory candidate Maria Hutchings played an unapologetically Right-wing hand, suggests that when the Conservatives do so Right-wing voters abandon the Tories for Ukip.

Why, after all, eat a potentially Euro-contaminated hamburger when you can opt for 100% British veal?

Evidently, many people in Eastleigh and elsewhere are also not thinking what Lynton Crosby is thinking. If the electoral swings seen in Eastleigh recur at the general election, the result would look something like this: Labour would take 355 seats with the Conservatives on 208. The Liberal Democrats would take 41 and Ukip would have 17.

The Conservatives are essentially in a fix. Move to the Right and watch their voters go over in their droves to Ukip, or put the Right of the party in its place by abandoning failed austerity economics.

The government appears to believe that if it abandons austerity now  it will represent a humiliating climbdown (it will), so expect an increasingly emboldened Tory Right to deliver more Tory voters into Nigel Farage’s lap.

Here’s the result 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%)

Liberal Democrat majority 1,771 (4.26%, -2.94%)

Turnout: 41,616 52.8% (-12,034, -16.5%)

Swing: 19.34% Liberal Democrat to UKIP

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44 Responses to “The Lesson from Eastleigh: When the Tories move rightwards their voters flock to Ukip”

  1. Ash

    Hmm… defections to UKIP seem to have come as much from the Lib Dems as the Tories, so I’m not sure Tory party policy is the place to look for an explanation. It looks a lot like people just decided to vote against the Government.

  2. John

    Fewer than 1 in 10 voters wanted Labour.

  3. Mick

    Yes. Parties in power have been known to suffer locally. And UKIP are the traditional party to divert votes to the Tories, just as, ooo, the BNP had been to skim off votes which could have gone to Labour!

    And it’s odd for this site to gloat about the Tories when their beloved Labour are the true failures, polling only 10% of the vote. That’s worse than Nick Griffin did in Barking And Dagenham.

  4. Mick

    And hardly a landslide for the sleaze-addled Libs. Though today they celebrate, all ideas of the PR system conveniently out of their minds. No sharing power with the losers today, eh?

  5. henrytinsley

    LFF isn’t a Labour site. If it was, it wouldn’t be publishing stuff by Caroline Lucas.

  6. Mick

    I see. I certainly mistook it for such, bearing in mind they run with the Labour ball.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  7. Mick

    …And it did strike me as graceless for left wingers to dump on Labour after all those years of service and comparatively glittering success in government. Well, they got elected, which is far as you can usually go.

    Greens the only alternative and no critical response? My god.

  8. Newsbot9

    It’s not a seat where they have any hope of being elected, and under FPTP this is no surprise. At all. But details!

  9. Newsbot9

    Eh. AFAIK It shows how far right the LibDems have moved that their voters are comfortable moving to UKIP.

  10. Newsbot9

    Yes, I’m sure your sort of blindly tribal loyalty to your party makes it look like that to you. Labour rejected the left, in reality. Not the other way around.

    The Greens are *far* from the only alternative, this is a living debate among the left into which you’re interjecting Tory screaming.

  11. Newsbot9

    Ah yes, the typical attempt to link the BNP and Labour. Pathetic.
    Keep on talking up something quite normal under FPTP to justify your bigotry.

  12. Mick

    Losers don’t get elected under First Past The Post.

    Is that why mutualists never get in?

  13. Mick

    FPTP – you get most votes than the others to win.

    Loser System: You gotta share all the seats anyway. Well, until that BNP you hate me talking about have a chance.

  14. Mick

    Labour changed because the previous people were liabilities. That’s how you got Blair. that’s how Labour got power.

    1979 and onwards – Labour’s glory years. Losers but not compromised. Stay losers Labour.

  15. Newsbot9

    Yes, keep trying to make mocking jokes about your bigotry.

  16. Newsbot9

    Yes, keep trying to redefine PR. And your radicals are kept out in most countries with PR by a requirement for a sensible % of the vote for representation.

    But details, you have to smear and spam your way to victory!

  17. Newsbot9

    Right, right, voters are a liability to you. Good totalitarians like you have no use for them.

    Keep ignoring reality.

  18. Mick

    Does this mean you renounce mutualism and actually join a winning team?

  19. Mick

    Well make up your mind whether I’m Tory or BNP!

  20. Mick

    Mutualists – fiction for every occasion.

  21. Newsbot9

    Keep trying to control me, and demand that I join The Party, totalitarian. Keep demanding that you win without democracy having any part in it!

    Keep on spamming to obscure any reasonable argument among the left – your fear and hatred of people talking sensibly about alternatives to your Jihad against Britain…

  22. Newsbot9

    Yes, you keep trying to use your stereotyping and collectivism to claim everyone is like you.

  23. Newsbot9

    I use “Tory” as an insult. Your actual views seem to be somewhere to the right of the NF.

  24. Mick

    Nobody controls Newsbot! Newsbot’s a free spirit, a completely erratic and unpredictable broken toy which, when you pull the cord, flies off in all directions to cause untold damage.

    You’ll never keep Newsbot on a leash.

  25. Mick

    I could never stereotype Newsbot. He’s in a ward of his, I mean, class of his own.

  26. Mick

    Newsbot making an insult? Could that possibly be….?

    So it’s NF now. Poor little Mutualists, they’re so far to the Left that they can’t even tell if a man’s Tory, BNP of NF.

  27. Newsbot9

    Okay, sorry, to the right of C18. I’ll get it right sooner or later.

  28. Newsbot9

    Keep on claiming I’m you. I’m not the one who’s the rabid right winger.

  29. Newsbot9

    Yes, keep talking up your stereotypical, PC bigotry and social darwinism.

  30. Mick

    Can’t be all that rabid if you can’t answer any of my questions.

  31. Mick

    He’s even got the madman jargon!

    You gotta hand it to Newsbot, he’s the entire package! As his pending reply will again prove……

  32. Newsbot9

    I did. Your response is more snarling and frothing.

  33. Mick

    Love these left wing goon shows! Only here on Left Foot Forward!

  34. Newsbot9

    You’re confusing yourself with the left wing again I see.

  35. Newsbot9

    I have a package, yes. Unlike you. Keep calling the truth a problem and mad, it is of course a major roadblock for you.

  36. Mick


  37. Mick

    Now THAT would be an insult against myself!

  38. Newsbot9

    So no different from usual then.

  39. Mick

    Well, would make a change from Newsbot doing it in his blind, flailing way.

  40. Newsbot9

    Keep confusing me and you.

  41. drydamol1


    Cameron at last is getting the message that Eastleigh was

    not a Midterm blip nor a tactical vote but a very weary
    Public telling the

    Tories it’s time to go .His reassurance that he will not
    vere to the Right has

    fallen on deaf ears ,it’s almost like saying Hitler was a
    Moderate Left

    .Welfare Reform ,Unemployment ,Secret Courts
    ,Privatisation through the back

    door ,how Right can you get .He says the Tories need
    Rebranding does that mean

    more smiles and bigger lies .The Whole Parliamentary
    System does not need Rebranding

    or an Overall but Scrapping and a New Democracy Born .EU
    and American influences

    have decimated all social cohesion within Britain and the
    Politicians answer ‘look

    after number one’.www.brokenbritainundertories

  42. Mick

    Oh, so YOU’RE more extreme than C18.

    Well, thanks for the confirm.

  43. Newsbot9

    Keep making up your nonsense against this Jew.

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