Up close with the candidates in Eastleigh

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant and the Monster Raving Loony party's Howling Laud Hope Conservative MP Michael Fabricant meets the Monster Raving Loony party's Howling Laud Hope who polled 136 votes

Photographing elections can be tough, especially by-elections. In the run-up to polling the candidates pace the streets, shaking hands and even kiss babies, generally hoping to sway the residents in their direction.

The by-election in Eastleigh was no exception and photographer Paul Russell spent a few days with camera in hand tracking down the candidates prior to polling.

"I was initially interested in photographing the Eastleigh by-election as it was the first one where the partners of the coalition, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, were going head to head in a reasonably close seat," says Russell. "On my first visit I was struck by the visual interest of the election being played out against the backdrop of a fairly awkward time for the country."

For all the gloss and glitter of election campaigns once you get on the ground they often seem very mundane, with colourful banners placed against shop windows or balloons mingling with street furniture.


Russell found Eastleigh to be a pleasant small town. "It is certainly not doing too badly compared to some places I visit, but it has its share of disused shops, so I often found myself photographing candidates and supporters with a background of boarded-up buildings.

"I started to try and capture a little of the town, as well as the election. UKIP have a campaign office in Eastleigh town centre in a disused Julian Graves shop, which possibly would not have been an option in better times."

Russell also looked to capture the media presence which at times he notes seemed to outnumber the local population. "I became interested in photographing the influence of the media on the events - situations specifically set up for the benefit of the press. I noted how keen politicians seemed to be on getting their picture taken with anyone they could find in a wheelchair."

He used a small discreet digital camera, the Fujifilm X10, which meant he could get quite close and photograph unobtrusively. "I often found myself a few feet away from subjects, while the press photographers who arrived this week were further back. With the silent shutter, people usually forgot I was there, allowing me to get mostly naturalistic photos, rather than staged looking pictures."

The results are now in with Mike Thornton of the Liberal Democrats being elected to parliament, though UKIP saw its best-ever performance in a Westminster poll.

Here are a few of Paul Russell's pictures.

Liberal Democrats Mike Thornton (front), a parish and borough councillor since 2007, with fellow Liberal Democrats
Colin Bex, Wessex Regionalist candidate Colin Bex, the Wessex Regionalist candidate campaigning
Nick Robinson interviews some cafe customers Nick Robinson of the BBC interviews some cafe customers
David Bishop, Elvis Loves Pets party (left); Nigel Farage, UKIP leader (right) David Bishop of the Elvis Loves Pets party attracts attention of those passing
Labour Party campaign centre: wall of helpers' names Inside the Labour Party campaign centre helpers write their names on a whiteboard
Conservative stall The Conservatives fielded Maria Hutchings but she was pushed into third place
Nigel Farage and UKIP Nigel Farage (second from left) of UKIP with other campaigners hand out leaflets
Quiz the candidates A sign advertises a chance for locals to quiz the candidates
English Democrats stall English Democrats obtained 70 votes at the by-election
Danny Stupple campaigning on polling day Independent candidate Danny Stupple polled 768 votes and came fifth

You can see more of Paul Russell's work on his website.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    UKIP are the only party to take our democracy back from the EU to run our-self. UKIP for 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    In 2010 the turnout was only 65%, and here we had a turnout of 52% I believe. Whilst Lib-Dems are patting themselves on the back they actually lost 14% of the vote from last time. The same is true of the Cons as well. So massive gain for UKIP. If people want change in Britain, we have to break the 2/3 party system. A protest vote at the next election the only way to go. Freeze them all out!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    the problem is that the EU governs the uk in reality, the partys are all powerless, voters know that 3 of the leading partys are all social democrats mks 1-3..they are all the same.it doesnt matter who you vote for....

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Eastleigh saw everyone loose.....

    Tories - MASSIVE slump in their share of the vote

    Lib Dems - as above

    Lab - didn't pick up that many voters

    UKIP - even with an open goal they still CANNOT win a single Parlimentary seat

    Independants - we're fed up with the big parties, so why do voters keep voting for them & not independants....????

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    One of Thatcher's least endearing characteristics was her lack of acceptance that even "the poorest hee that is in England hath a life to live",
    Until Duncan Smith and his cronies start treating their fellow countrymen with due respect, rather than seeking to replace them with cheaper alternatives, I do not think the UK and the Tories can go forward together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Which one is which in the top picture?

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    What this by-election should tell the Tories is that the electorate is sick of:-

    The economy being badly managed
    Uncontrolled immigration from Eastern Europe
    Benefits being paid to migrants who have paid nothing in.
    New jobs going to migrants not our young people
    Failing education standards
    Shoddy treatment of the armed services
    Bankers STILL getting away with it.
    Out of control Councils

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Congratulations to Monster Raving Loony party's Howling Laud Hope who polled 136 votes. Vote for Insanity You know it makes sense.
    I wonder what would have happened to British politics if he had won this election? Its happening in Italy ....so why not here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    You have to laugh at the UKIP supporters thinking this was some sort of break through for them!

    You had the best possible circumstances in which to fight this by-election & you are still no where near a single seat in Parliament!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The real story of this By-Election is the Media and their attempts to deliver a Tory victory on the back of a 4 year old story about Lord Rennard

    They relentlessly pursued that story in an attempt to put off lib dem support
    And to all you people who think it was a real story and should be taken seriously

    Where is that story now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Michael Fabricant looks like he's joined the homeless. Is that just similar to being a Tory MP in the run up to the next election?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I still can't believe UKIP campaigned with Neil and Christine Hamilton, and actually came second.

    Presumably UKIP voters have no moral compass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    It is no doubt very difficult for any major Political Party to give a sensible explanation as to why none of them has ever trusted the UK Public to have an in or out vote on Europe.
    But..then again...our free press....have never questioned why?Which leads to the next questions...Can we depend on our Politicians?Can we depend on a free press?
    Maybe democracy is no longer important...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Fujifilm X10 with silent shutter, eh?

    nice piece of product placement in this news article from the independent, no-adverts BBC.

    I'll be online looking for one right away ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Getting harder and harder to tell which ones are from the loony party these days...

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Clinton had it right.

    It's the economy, stupid.

    So why hasn't the BBC commented on the EU's attack on the Banks.
    And Cameron's defence of the Banks.

    Their supposed god given right to rip us off.
    And Cameron wanting to allow them to rip not just us off but the rest of the world too.
    From little England.

    What a nasty party he represents.
    Remember well come the real election.

    He will. Banks pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Thoughts and reactions from political parties and public...
    Conservatives: "We did well"
    Lib dems: "We did well"
    UKIP: "We did well"
    Labour: "We did well"
    Public: "Who cares? It's not going to make a difference anyway. They're all as useless and self-obsessed as each other!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Torys slaughted, Liberals seen as the least worst option, UKIP getting the I can't vote for the usless coaltion - all very predicatable even smug face Glegg saying what a fantastic victory.. what a muppet libdems are history. It may have been bad under labour but it got a whole lot worse with this inept bunch of amateurs we have in government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Great to see 'nothing bold, nothing new, nothing borrowed, nothing true' Labour get a pasting. My only regret was that they didn't lose their deposit.


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