Eastleigh by-election: 19 February – how could things get worse for the Tories?

Eastleigh by-election: 19 February – how could things get worse for the Tories?

Storified by Mark Pack· Tue, Feb 19 2013 10:13:28

How could things possibly get worse for the troubled campaign of controversial Conservative candidate in Eastleigh, Maria Hutchings? Well, try this from their co-chairman Andrew Feldman: the company running the servers for their voter contact database has gone into administration and key services were unavailable:

“At present, these servers are hosted by a third party company that has suddenly, and unexpectedly, gone into administration. We are working to find a solution to this problem which involves bringing the servers back in-house.

“This is preventing the central database from replicating with your local MERLIN. However, this doesn’t prevent you continuing to use your local version of MERLIN as normal.”

Read the full story here:
Tory contact crash |Tuesday 19th February 2013 | 08:26 Tory contact crash Behind in the polls, anecdotally losing ground on the ground*, a controversial cand…
With all the troubles in the Conservative campaign, it’s no wonder that both the UKIP and Tory camps are saying that support for Maria Hutchings is slipping:

“The Conservatives appear to have slipped behind, according to anecdotal evidence from MPs on the campaign trail and of canvass returns to party headquarters.

“Polling for the UK Independence Party suggested that the Lib Dems had a lead of up to ten points over the Tories. One Tory suggested that the gap was nearer seven points.”

Read the full story here:

Tory nerves show as Eastleigh by-election lead slips | The TimesSenior Conservatives are increasingly gloomy about their chances of snatching victory from the Liberal Democrats in the Eastleigh by-elec…
Meanwhile, the Conservatives may want to think about locating their posters a little more tactfully given the issues:
As a result of all this, a lot of Conservatives are now pinning their hopes on the decision on a high-profile planning application having to be made during the campaign:
Plans for 1,400 new homes in Hampshire given go-aheadMore than 1,000 homes at Boorley Green get the green light from planners 1:22am Tuesday 19th February 2013 in News Plans for 1,400 new ho…
There’s an interesting take in The Spectator about one possible positive sign of the quality of the Conservative campaign:
The Tories take tips from Obama in EastleighEastleigh could be a turning point in by-election history. Not because the Tories are looking like they may well lose, as the Times (£) s…
However, such online surveys are not particularly new and if you’re looking for successful importing of US campaign tactics, it is the Liberal Democrat adoption of Obama-style volunteer mobilisation tactics that is the big success so far, with over 200 helpers by lunchtime today alone.
On to other campaign news and first a great account from a local journalist about how the campaigns have been (mis)handling the local press:
Inside the Eastleigh election campaign circusA ridiculous world of controlling press officers and restrictions on the Eastleigh campaign trail 8:00am Sunday 17th February 2013 in New…
Oh, and some more Maria Hutchings news of course:
By-election Tory blasted PM over Lib Dem coalitionTHE Tory candidate in the Eastleigh by-election blasted David Cameron over his decision to go into coalition with the Lib Dems, The Sun h…
Finally, here’s news on the other candidates, their dogs and the betting odds:
Sketch: Don’t vote for ‘joke candidates’… says John O’Farrell – TelegraphHe moved on past the swings, his balloons bobbing along behind. A reporter asked about Margaret Thatcher. In 1998, Mr O’Farrell wrote tha…
The untold story of the Eastleigh by-election: the little-known names looking to step into Chris Huhne’s shoesNext Thursday’s Eastleigh by-election is hotting up. Tory Maria Hutchings put her foot in it over her son’s education at the weekend, whi…
Dogs have their day campaigningPoliticians hope to gain puppy power by taking dogs on Eastleigh campaign trail 1:30pm Tuesday 19th February 2013 in News By Luke Tugby, …
Mike Smithson’s Twitter PhotoMike Smithson

Read the previous round-ups from the Eastleigh by-election

All the previous daily round-ups about the Eastleigh campaign are here.

Mike Wood
Mike Wood

I wouldn't read too much into the Merlin issue. The server company went administration a few weeks ago. Since then I know that our Association's system has replicated so I think it's a fair bet that Eastleigh's system will be fine. There are wider issues with Merlin but that won't make too much difference in Eastleigh. They are more problematic for Associations that do not have full-time manned offices.

Sean Ash
Sean Ash

Surely game, set and match.

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