Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Eastleigh’

The Buzz at Eastleigh

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 24th February, 2013

Eastleigh bye;ectionMike ThorntonA coachload of London Liberal Democrats went down to Eastleigh yesterday, where we found the by-election headquarters a hive of activity; apparently nearly 500 volunteers from all over the country went through the doors during the day. I don’t remember such a positive buzz about a by-election since the early days of the Liberal-SDP Alliance, but the difference in the level of professionalism between now and 30 years ago was striking. Arriving helpers were immediately divided and labelled into canvassers, deliverers and clerical, and people were genuinely asked what they preferred to do, rather than just being told, as if so often the case at such times. The warehouse space being used was large enough to have a number of different activities going on at the same time, while printers continued to churn out new literature. That literature itself was of a far higher quality than has sometimes been the case and presented the LibDem candidate Mike Thornton — a respected local councillor — as a man of the community who will do all he can to represent the areas interests at Westminster. So it was a pleasure to deliver it, even in the freezing cold and flurries of snow. Unusually, every single councillor in the constituency, at local and county level,  is LibDem, but that almost embarrassing dominance does not mean the by-election is going to be a walkover. The Party is still languishing at between 10 and 12 per cent in the national opinion polls and has been the subject of negative publicity recently, including over former MP Chris Huhne’s resignation and trial. Nonetheless there are a good number of dayglo poster boards up around the constituency and local opinion polls suggest the LibDems and Tories are neck and neck. UKIP is also going to poll well (though not well enough), with Labour trailing badly in fourth place. Of course we won’t know the actual result until after the count, but Mike Thornton deserves to win and both the number and enthusiasm of party helpers out and about in the constituency bode well for the Party’s health.


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Chris Huhne’s Crystal Ball

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 1st July, 2009

Chris Huhne 3Labour could be heading for its worst general election defeat since 1931, according to Eastleigh MP and Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne, who was speaking at the annual dinner of Barnet LibDems at the National Liberal Club this evening. That election took place during the worst economic crisis previous to the one we are now in. Ramsay MacDonald’s government had proved unable to agree on how to get Britain out of the Great Depression, with a result that on Tuesday (sic) 27 October, 1931, the British electorate not only threw out Labour; it reduced the party to just 52 seats in the House of Commons — fewer than the Liberal Democrats have today. The Conservatives under Stanley Baldwin won by a landslide in seats, if not exactly in voters, though this was, interestingly, the last British general election at which the winning party garnered more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Does Gordon Brown have nighmares about being MacDonald Mark II, one wonders? Or is he too thick-skinned for that? From the bags under his eyes it would appear that he isn’t getting enough sleep, poor man, whatever the reason. But of course, Gordon Brown’s big worry is that Labour MPs will have another go at trying to get him out, possibly around the autumn party conference, in the hope that any other leader would lessen the number of likely losses next year. Chris believes — as I do — that Alan Johnson is the most likely victor in such a situation (David Miliband having funked it, not once but twice). The good thing about that is that Johnson favours a half-way decent form of proportional representation. Actually leading the Labour Party to victory in 2010 might be beyond the capabilities of any man (or woman), however. But David Cameron is not convincing enough to do a Stanley Baldwin and too many of his closest colleagues have emerged really badly from the Daily Telegraph expenses exposés. So, Labour is indeed likely to slump badly at the general election — but the beneficiaries won’t just be the Tories. LibDems can expect to pick up seats from Labour, not least in the North of England and probably a few in London too.


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