Relief, disbelief, despair and concern

Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton  and UKIP candidate Diane James

Relief for the Liberal Democrats who held on despite everything.

Disbelief for UKIP who came close to an extraordinary mould-breaking victory and might have secured it if they'd believed it possible.

Despair for many Conservatives seeing themselves forced into third place in a seat they need to win to form a majority government in the future and by a party they now fear will rob them of that chance.

Concern for Labour who, even when the coalition is so unpopular, found themselves an irrelevant fourth.

Even though the Eastleigh constituency did not change hands, this by-election will change politics - spurring on those Tories who insist that David Cameron is driving their party over an electoral cliff.

Energising Nigel Farage and UKIP to believe and to claim that they are a new force in national politics.

Fuelling those who criticise Ed Miliband for not extending Labour's appeal enough.

And giving Nick Clegg a small respite after being forced into this by-election by a scandal, having his campaign overshadowed by another and being told he and his party were finished.

The result is a reminder that politics is still local - a popular local council and strong local party helped the Eastleigh Lib Dems to weather a national storm.

That storm will now switch its focus to the prime minister who will face one question again and again from his own MPs and activists - what on earth do we do about UKIP?

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    We want our country back, not much to ask is it?
    I live in Luton

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    #24 alas yes ...but with no winston churchill around ...just pygmies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Welcome back to the 1930s. A world wide recession. A monetary crisis. A government whose only policy is destructive and self defeating austerity. A weak and ineffective opposition party and growing support for a party which says its all the fault of foreigners and immigrants. Some of you won't never learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Cant be sure what policies the mainstream parties have apart from ignoring the general public.At least with UKIP you get whats on the tin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    UKIP would have won if Lib Dem voters hadn't filled in their wifes ballot papers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    We now live in a time where every general and by election is a "protest vote"...the SNP landslide in Scotland, the Lib Dems sharing power with the Tories at Westminster and now UKIP doing well at Eastleigh.

    Says alot about how the public feel about politicians and politics doesnt it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    This was a local Lib Dem victory achieved in spite of their recent shenanigans among their party supremos and resultant hysteria among the Daily Mail afficionados. Tories should note that it was the Lib Dems who won, not UKIP and should note that a candidate from the right wing of their party was soundly defeated and so they must not lurch to the right and thereby continue to lose elections

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    All three major parties are slowly realising that UKIP will not go away. The European elections will be another reminder that voters are fed up with politicians who live their lives in the Westminster bubble. UKIP is refreshingly different but now the big test of credibility comes. The next two years could see a massive shift in the political landscape and I'm all for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The Lib Dems only won this by a voting inertia. If this election had taken place six months down the line they would have lost to UKIP. All three of the main parties will be in trouble come 2015 because they are either not listening to public opinion or they are simply ignoring it. UKIP are now much closer to winning seats and I say rather UKIP than the BNP or EDL!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Anyone else watch QT last night? Angela Eagle just mouthing New Labour flannel but no policies, Claire Perry vibrant but ditto Tory platitudes; Lib-Dem despairing about the Deputy PM but equally desperately trying not to let the side down, whilst trimmer Hamilton superficially attractive, but UKIP dangerous.
    The only person with only real sense was Ken Loach, bemoaning no real Left centre party

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Lib Dems - annoyingly smug when they really shouldn't, nor deserve, to be
    Tories - at last starting to get the kicking they deserve
    Labour - last opportunity to replace Ed with David?
    UKIP - the lunatics who vote for them in 2015 may get what they deserve

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    This trend is similar to most of Europe. Anti-immigration parties seem to be picking up a lot of votes as people, disaffected by the mainstream parties look for someone to blame for their woes.

    This is simply a By-Election, take the results with a pinch of salt. Come general election time, while UKIP may increase its vote share, do not reliably expect them to make large gains across the board.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The Daily Mail was the loser in Eastleigh.

    It's daily front page attempts to smear Nick Clegg did not work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I find Farage arrogant and loathsome. Even more hateful than the Tories.

    Which is quite an achievement.

    Go on then U-Kippers, mark me down. I don't really care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Hey this is a mid-term by-election and normal rules apply. UKIP failed to do an Orpington. (Apologies to anyone under 50!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Interesting point on QT last night was that we are becoming much more interested in local politics, 14 parties ran at Eastleigh, than Westminster as the perception increases that there is no practical difference between the three main parties. Career politicians out of touch with society.

    UKIP will inevitably take advantage of this zeitgeist, as will other small parties.

    And stand up comics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    " but when is any UK government going to start listening to the voters, telling the truth and sticking to their promises!"

    When we start holding them to account .. We let them walk all over us and then ask why they do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The Liberal Democrats won but their share dropped from 47% to 33% - this is in line with polls which show their support since 2010 has gone down from 23% to 9%. If Eastleigh was repeated around the country they would have just 13 seats.
    One of the BBC's correspondence is saying it's good news for the LibDems. Really? 13 seats in 2015 doesn't seem good to me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This victory lends evidence to my belief that the Libs won't be as destroyed in 2015 as many claim or the polls indicate, yes they'll lose seats but their core vote won't be inclined to vote for anything-else and when the push comes to the shove will grudgingly reallign behind the party.

    #2: UKIP don't have a hope of winning in 2015, at best they'll act as a spoiler to split the right-wing vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The question shouldn't be what are the Tories going to do about UKIP but when is any UK government going to start listening to the voters, telling the truth and sticking to their promises!


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