So here are the figures: turn-out was higher than we have been used to in by-elections at 52.8 per cent. The Lib-Dims, whose vote collapsed in the last several by-elections held the seat easily with 13,342 votes, down considerably from Chris Huhne's 24,966. Second: UKIP, for the third by-election, with 11,571 votes, third Conservatives with 10,599 and it is the Labour vote that collapsed: 4,088. As the Boss says in his far earlier posting (he actually stayed up being that kind of a person):
Mike Thornton's vote of 13,342 votes compares with Chris Huhne's 24,966 in 2010, yet Thornton talks of a Lib-Dem "mandate", having dragged in pitiful 32 percent of the votes cast, and 17 percent of the electorate of 78,313. UKIP's great victory amounts to 28 percent of the votes cast, or 14.8 percent of the electorate.I am not sure this tells us anything new. People are not turning out to vote for any of the candidates (a spectacularly unexciting lot in Eastleigh) for a number of reasons.
The fact that this time the Lib-Dims held on to the seat after a number of catastrophic results while the Labour vote collapsed not only confounded those experts who said that the party was finished but shows a somewhat scatter gun approach by the electorate. We can draw no conclusions for the next General Election , which is two years or so away.
As for UKIP, despite their achievement in coming second yet again (and as late as 1 am last night Farage was saying that we may well see the first UKIP MP) they are now in no-man's land. Still no seat in Westminster, still not getting more than just over a quarter of the votes cast, still not achieving the position in political life, as opposed to the media they ought to have. Their plan to become the third party after the Lib-Dims has fallen by the wayside through the latter's victory in Eastleigh and they cannot pretend that they are the second party in the country with no MPs and very few councillors. So, despite the undoubted rejoicing in the UKIP ranks and despite the nauseating plaudits that will be heaped on the Dear Leader, the fact remains: after 20 years and in the most propitious circumstances they remain, as I say, in no-man's land.