Today's Eastleigh By-election will be a a test for the Con/LibDem coalition and some have compared it with the Newport By-election of 1922
The seat had been held the Liberal Lewis Halam who had previously sat for Monmouth Bourgeois as a Liberal but has fought the new seat of Newport as a coalition Liberal and did not have a Conservative opponent .
Though the Labour Party who were to prove to replace the Liberal party as the radical choice of voters almost immediately fought the seat.
|General election, 1918: Newport|
|Coalition Liberal||Lewis Haslam||14,080||56.4|
|Independent Democrat||B. P. Thomas||647||2.6|
In the By-Election the Tories put up a candidate and it was wildly perceived this would split the coalition vote and let Labour in .
In the end the Conservatives held the seat as the Liberal vote collapsed.
|Newport by-election, 1922|
|Liberal||William Lynden Moore||8,841||26.2||-30.2|
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||N/A|
The conservative leader Austen Chamberlain had been facing a growing rebellion amongst Conservative MPs over the Conservatives' continued support for the Coalition, and so had called a meeting of MPs at the Carlton Club to decide the issue. Expecting a Labour victory in Newport, the meeting was scheduled for 19 October in the hope that the result would persuade many Conservatives of the merits of remaining in alliance with the Liberals as the only way to keep Labour out of power.
The Carlton Club meeting took place nine hours after the declaration and many interpreted the result as a rejection of the Coalition, even though locally it appeared more a rejection of Labour and a vote for the Conservative candidate. The extent to which the by-election result alone influenced the outcome of the Conservative Party meeting is debated, but the meeting voted by 187:87 to leave the Coalition, with Austen Chamberlain resigning the leadership immediately afterwards.
Eastleigh of course is different but the preasure on the two coalition leaders is hugh
For the Liberal Democrats, its a must win and if they were to lose it could see the party turning on Nick Clegg and the Rennard scandal could give even more momentum to attempts to change their leader or even the excuse.
For the Tories,the danger is that they lose votes to Ukip letting the LibDems in and resulting into a fierce attack from Cameron's Euro-Sceptic backbenchers.
Ukip, can't lose A poor result will be largely ignored but a surge will propel the media to increasingly give them favourable coverage especially from the Murdoch's Eurosceptic empire..
For Labour a god result will give them credibility in the South of England and but to do this they must be seen to have garnered votes from disillusioned Liberal Democrats
But it is unlikely the result will follow that of Newport in 1922. Because then the Conservatives will confident of wining the next General Election which the polls show they are not.
And the LibDems face bloodbath if they force an election now and we all know "Turkeys don't often vote for Christmas".
Still on Friday we may see at least one Leader contemplating his future and a coalition still carrying on but falling apart at the seams..