At 8am this morning, and what a cold bitter morning it was, I bumped into a gentleman who told me he had not voted for 30 years. It was hardly the shocking news that blew out the morning haze like the perishing wind was feigning to do. Yet then he told me he was going to vote for Ukip. Not only that, but he had gone to our campaign office and requested a poster for his window. Warming news indeed.
The media has become obsessed that Ukip is taking votes from the Tories. But it's simply not that simple. Look at all the recent by-election results and I think it's clear to see we are having an impact across the board. Here in Eastleigh especially, we are causing a stir for all the other parties, and not only that, we are also finding support at around 20% from the large number of people who have simply become too disillusioned with the political elite to bother voting at all.
There's a genuine feeling that Ukip are garnering support not only from disenchanted Conservatives but with people from across the political spectrum who have recognised our message as being the real political alternative.
There's little doubt that the Liberal Democrat vote is down, despite Eastleigh having for a long time been a Lib Dem heartland. The Tory vote is also down, despite the party throwing every resource and the kitchen sink at their campaign. And while it would seem, despite reports, that the Labour vote is actually up a little bit, it's the Ukip vote that is climbing the most. Whilst there's still a lot to do, this isn't simply a two horse race. Ukip are thundering up on the rails.
This afternoon I am canvassing in Bishopstoke after today's eight media interviews.
This by-election really has a buzz to it that has turned Eastleigh into the hub of UK politics for the few weeks since Huhne stepped down. Everyone is sending everyone and anyone to canvas. All the party leaders have been down, Boris Johnson startled bemused ladies with zealous door knocking, I'm surprised Larry the 10 Downing Street cat hasn't been drafted in to work at the Conservative call centre. In Eastleigh it doesn't just feel like a by-election, but a general election. The atmosphere is electric, the tension palpable.
After canvassing in Bishopstoke I am then touring pubs in the south of the constituency this evening to throw my support behind the struggling industry that has taken a battering over the years from increasing beer duty, the smoking ban, cheap supermarket alcohol prices, soaring business rates and the growing threat of the ever increasing 'Pubco' chains.
Not only is it an opportunity to unwind after another manic day with a pint of bitter, but it's an invaluable opportunity to get to know the real people of this town, away from the banner waving, rosette wearing army of campaigners who are painting the streets in the colours of their chosen party.
For the next week, Eastleigh will remain the beating heart of British politics. But once the results have come in and the dust has settled, these will be the people who will be affected by the choices made at the ballot box. And it's these people that Ukip is listening to.
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