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Four Parties - Four Key Lessons From Eastleigh

01/03/2013 09:25 GMT | Updated 30/04/2013 10:12 BST

Small political earthquake in Hampshire - that's that tone of much of the commentary about the Eastleigh by election on Friday.

And it's fair comment too.

It was hardly surprising all three main parties wanted a rapid poll. The circumstances which created the poll were dreadful for the Lib Dems - and the headlines throughout the campaign remained equally dire for them.

The Tories thought a short campaign would hold off a UKIP surge and Labour seemed to be 'test piloting' its One Nation message - rather than putting heart and soul into the campaign.

So what are the key lessons from the poll? I believe there are four.

One - incumbency is a major advantage for the Lib Dems. Despite horrendous national headlines and polling numbers - the Lib Dem machine remains incredibly effective. I have never believed the Lib Dems would be wiped out in 2015 - and this by-election shows just that.

Holding the most recent 'voter tested' mandate before the March Budget - expect Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander to push back in the 'quad' that operates the Coalition [that's Cameron, Osborne, Clegg, Alexander] and demand some more stimulus or Keynsian demand side policies.

Second - Tory policies on immigration are starting to bear fruit from their perspective.

Figures released by the ONS yesterday showed net migration to the UK fell by a third in the year ending June 2012, compared with the previous 12 months. The Office for National Statistics said 163,000 more people came to live in the UK in the past year or more than had left, compared with 247,000 the year before.

Pity for the Tories that they didn't have those figures released a week earlier in the campaign. So expect to see one of the most sure footed Cabinet members in Theresa May being pushed forward in coming months by the Downing Street media machine talking that line.

Third - Labour can't just continue to 'laboratory test' the One Nation idea with voters. Ed Miliband needs to start to flesh out what is a coherent idea into some detailed policies which voters can understand and, importantly, like. The modus of Blair and Brown in the 1990s to keep all their significant policies is not the lesson to learn here.

Remember how Osborne changed the political weather in 2007 when he launched his policy on CGT? It changed the opinion polls overnight - and the Tories led the agenda. Labour now desperately needs to consider a similarly eye catching idea.

Four - UKIP is going to do VERY well in the 2014 EU Parliament elections. Infact it is worth placing a bet on them now before the bookies close their odds. It's a single issue election. The three main parties need to factor in that likely huge UKIP bounce in the early summer of 2014 to their 2015 election strategies now.

So will the coalition survive until then after this small earthquake in Hampshire? I am sticking with my bet of the Coalition breaking apart after the 2014 EU poll and a 'supply and confidence' arrangement between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems to the 2015 General Election.

#Eastleigh - I think we will all remember that name for a long time.