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Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton has won the seat of Eastleigh, Hampshire in Thursday's by election. Holding on to the constituency for his party with a total of 13,342 votes and a majority of 1,771 votes, Thornton has pledged to offer a "strong voice" in Westminster. The by-election came after ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne issued his resignation amidst a scandal regarding his driving licence points.
Thornton had been a parish and borough councillor for six years before beginning his campaign in Eastleigh, and speaking further on his win, noted that "The people of Eastleigh recognise that the Liberal Democrats have always had a superb record of delivery, we've always listened to what people want, and we always make sure that we do a good job."
While Thornton's victory was widely predicted in Eastleigh, less predictable was UKIP's success, with candidate Diane James securing 11,571 votes and causing a 19.3 per cent swing from the Lib Dems. Speaking on this, the party's best performance in an election to date, leader Nigel Farage commented that it was "not a freak result" and that "people are sick and tired of having three social democrat parties that are frankly indistinguishable from each other."
The Conservatives have dismissed UKIP's result as nothing more than a protest vote, with Grant Shapps, Party Chairman, stating that UKIP were the obvious choice for a protest vote in the constituency. Farage was far more confident, however, claiming that if the Conservatives had not split the vote then Eastleigh would have seen a UKIP victory. Tory Candidate Maria Hutchings received 10,559 votes; a total of 1,012 less than UKIP.
In fourth and fifth came the Labour party candidate John O'Farrell with 4,088 votes and independent candidate Danny Stupple with 768 votes. Turnout dropped by 16.6 per cent from the general election to 52.7 per cent, a relatively good figure for a by-election.