POLITICS

Eastleigh By-Election: Conservatives Spin Loss As Victory For Coalition

01/03/2013 12:00 GMT | Updated 01/03/2013 12:08 GMT

As post-by-election spin goes, saying everything is ok because at least your coalition partners won, is pretty bold.

The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Sarah Newton, did just that as she sought to explain away the Tory's disastrous third place finish in Eastleigh.

Speaking to BBC news, Newton noted the Lib Dems had been in the lead for a while, she said: "It was their incumbent seat".

"Actually it’s good for the coalition that the coalition has kept a seat despite all the difficulties facing the Liberal Democrats and the coalition.

"Labour weren’t able to make any gains at all. I’ll stand on my record in my seat, as an effective hard working local MP, as my colleagues will across the country.

"But what people will be asking in 2015, do they want David Cameron, or do they want to hand the keys back to the people who crashed the economy, Ed Miliband, and Balls? I don’t think that is a realistic prospect in 2015."

Newton also repeated the claim to the Western Morning News, her local paper: "It was a Lib Dem seat to hold. They are part of coalition. It was a win for coalition."

The spin is unlikely to go down to well with many backbench Tory MPs, who fear a surge in Ukip support could lose them their seats and deny the party a majority in 2015.

Conservative education secretary Michael Gove took a different approach:"I don’t want to be like the Black Knight in Monty Python, who after receiving an injury, says, 'oh it's just a flesh wound'.

He added: "People are exasperated with politicians who try and put a positive gloss on bad news."

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Eastleigh By-Election