Eastleigh

Kiran Stacey

Boris Johnson and Maria Hutchings doorknocking in Eastleigh

Boris Johnson and Maria Hutchings campaigning in Eastleigh

We are now just a week from the Eastleigh byelection and the likely result is starting to take shape.

The Lib Dems have emerged as the decisive favourites. They have run an impeccable campaign, from choosing a man who was the antithesis of Chris Huhne, to limiting the campaign to three weeks, preventing their rivals from getting their machinery properly off the ground.

For a full explanation of why the Lib Dem ground operation has been better than the Tory one, James Forsyth’s piece for the Spectator gives an excellent summary. 

Kiran Stacey

David Cameron with Maria HutchingsIt was always going to be fascinating to watch how the two coalition parties would campaign when pitted against each other in the closely-fought Eastleigh byelection.

Commentators expected both sides to start criticising policies they have backed within the coalition, and to a certain extent that has happened.

But a press note just delivered by the Lib Dems has turned that on its head, becoming what must surely be the first election material to praise a minister of a different party for implementing government policy. 

Kiran Stacey

Nick Clegg in Eastleigh

Nick Clegg in Eastleigh

Nick Clegg yesterday won the race to become the first party leader to get to Eastleigh, where the Lib Dems are about to test their theory that they can hold onto their seats against Tory challenges in 2015.

Bravely, Clegg chose to tour a college where car mechanics were being trained, which given the circumstances in which Chris Huhne, the previous MP, had to resign his seat, helped the picture caption writers no end.

The Lib Dem leader gave off an air of unruffled determination, telling reporters he was “very confident” that his party would hold on to the seat.