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 66.

    The bankers are still getting big bonus's. Energy bills are going ever upwards, the old shiver in their homes. The poor are getting poorer, the rich, richer. What has this government done, they have legalized gay marriage. Well that makes everything all right then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    UKIP will continue to gain support amongst what used to be conservative voters until Mr Cameron stops issuing soundbites and launching political polices with clever words that mean they never actually happen (and which most voters are now savy to) and instead starts to deliver real chnages to laws that really do address the two big issues - immigration and the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    To all you working people gloating at the thought of a UKIP breakthrough.

    The EU social chapter guarantees all those things you've got used to - 4 weeks paid holiday, no forced work beyond a set number of hours etc. If UKIP win - or force the Tories to the right, you WILL lose these and probaby also have to put up with USA style hire and fire laws as well. Be very careful what you wish for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I do hope you're right that the Tory party is unelectable. They have caused us to loose our AAA rating and we have a triple dip recession. They are imposing changes on the NHS which weren't part of their manifesto in fact they said no more top down changes.
    Or were you being ironic?
    It doesn't feel like a socialist government to me. Quite the opposite. More right wing than Maggie

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    They are all very similar because they are all graduates of varying calibre who do not want to work as we understand it. They tout their services round party offices, 'think tanks' etc and accept whatever comes along. There is no conviction or morality in their actions & a serious disconnect in their experience of real life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    The rise of UKIP will continue as the economy flatlines. Europe and the U.S are in relative decline. The 21st Century belongs to India and China. Cameron can blame Labour as much as he likes, but what we are witnessing is the first crisis of globalization. If you thought the crash in 2008 was bad, you haven't seen nothing yet...

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    When will they learn that this country has had enough of constant bad policies of this goverment,that continue to hurt the poorest every time.They did not make this crisis the greedy markets and bankers are who should be made to suffer the most. I dont see ukip making any promises on what they would do on this so no difference there they are and will always be a protest vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I don't understand how any ordinary British citizen could vote for the tories. They are the party of the very, very rich, They and the rest of their establishment have suffocated Great Britain for hundreds of years. The libdems, nu-labour and ukip have all demonstrated that they are of similar leanings, so why can't we just get rid of the lot of them?

  • Comment number 58.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    So the coalition received nearly 24,000 votes, around 57%, as opposed to being any kind of protest vote that could be considered as an endorsement for the government's strategy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    The Conservatives have not fullfilled any of their election promises and we feel we are being governed by a left-wing socialist government. Until and unless DC starts to listen to his electorate instead of blaming his unpopularity on being 'mid-term', the Conservative part will remain unelectable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    that milliband really gets up my nose" no milliband you dont have to try harder to win the middle class vote in southern england want to stand up for the rights of all working class people in the uk".

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    People are extremely cheesed off with the main political parties ('different sides of the same backside' to steal the noxious George Galloway's rather overused joke), so it's understandable that we're seeing a new force gaining momentum.

    What's both sad and concerning, however, is that it's Ukip, a party whose appeal is based on xenophobia and a simple-minded hankering for a world long gone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    UKIP's main aim is to get rid of all legislation that protects employees and consumers. Say goodbye to holiday and sick pay, to consumer protections and employment protections, in the unlikely event that slimy Farage wins a General Election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    When will people realise it's OUR country not theirs. Have 100 years of imbecile governments and scandals not made you wake up to the fact that the establishments is just out to screw us for all we're worth. Not only have we been sold into slavery but out great great grandchildren too.
    revolution doesn't need to be violent just insist your wages are paid in cash weekly and see how things change

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Can someone please ban the use of "UK PLC". We're 4 nations each with its own culture and customs. We have a fair number of PLCs but together we're more than all of them added together and multiplied by ten.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    It’s amazing how many extrapolate their own propaganda from a single mid term bi-election result. I expect most commentators will be proven wrong in the fullness of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    When it comes to politics we only get what we deserve. The nation didn't vote for AV - we still have a first past the post electoral system, and as a result Eastleigh has a new MP who doesn't represent the majority of views in the area. That's how our system works and it's our fault!
    I only hope that as a nation we don't make the silly mistake of becoming a little England. It's time to move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I have been a loyal Conservative voter since 1981. Even in the landslide defeats of 1997 and 2001 I stuck with them. But the Conservative party is not "Conservative" anymore. Mr Cameron may believe he will win back his voters but here is one who will not be coming back. I have been let down badly as has the rest of the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    UKIP = isolationism bordering on racism. The only hope is that Farrago and his one policy party has benefited from a mid- term protest vote. But I fear this isn't the case; too often in the past we've seen extremist parties gain strength and power when voters are experiencing hard economic times coupled with disillusionment with main stream parties. Could we have 1930s Germany here? Yes we could!


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