Farage Eyes Eastleigh

Nigel Farage is up to something. He’s very publicly challenged Cameron to a debate, delivering a personal note to No.10 this morning:

“I propose a public debate between us where we can put our respective cases forward. My challenge to you is an open and honest one and I hope you will afford me, and the people of this country, a proper say on the matter.”

True to form, the UKIP leader took some ladies with him for the ride. While a debate between these two would no doubt be a belter, it’s not going to happen. Where Farage chose to announce his debate plan did pique Guido’s interest though. It seems he has spent the weekend in the prospective battlefield site of Eastleigh – Chris Huhne’s seat. For now…

Hypothetically, were there to be a by-election in the seat it would tear the coalition apart. There is plenty of bad blood on the ground after local Tories were narrowly defeated by vicious LibDem campaigns in election after election. Nobody would be pulling their punches this time…

If LibDem polling figures remain where they are, it will be the Tories’ to lose, but there are also 10,000 Labour votes up for grabs. With a decent tactical campaign UKIP could easily pick up significantly more than the 3,000 votes they secured in 2010. And not just from from disillusioned Tories…

Interestingly Farage stood in the seat in 1994, he reportedly told a local crowd on Saturday: “coming to Eastleigh is like coming home”“Eastleigh is a site of some interest” a UKIP spokesmen told Guido this afternoon, though they would not be drawn on speculation. Ingratiating himself with local businesses? Talking to residents? Whatever could he be up to…

Photos via Eastleigh News


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GuidoFawkes Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall at the Press Gallery lunch:

“We lost our shadow chancellor, but most people thought we had lost our balls before the election.”

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