Chris Huhne's resignation means there is all to play for in the Eastleigh by-election (Reuters)
One of the great falsehoods about Ukip is that it has been a party driven solely by disgruntled Thatcherite ex-Conservatives. Whilst there are many former Tories within Ukip, there have always been ex-Labour and LibDem members too - as well as those like me who have never supported any other party.
When it comes to the Eastleigh by-election on 28 February, however, things are particularly interesting given that it is a Lib Dem-held seat with a council that contains solely Lib Dem councillors. Many Lib Dem voters represent a large swathe of British public opinion that was disgusted with the previous Tory and Labour governments and wanted something different. Yet post-2010 all three of the traditional parties in Britain have been in power within a matter of a few years, and the Lib Dem appeal as a viable alternative to the status quo has deteriorated.
Not only are the Lib Dems in government but they have emphatically sold out on their core issues of scrapping tuition fees, voting reform and an elected House of Lords. Nick Clegg's feeble leadership is destroying the party - and the opinion polls back that up. Sometimes they now poll close to half of what Ukip achieves.
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The outcome is that significant numbers of former Lib Dem voters who want to engage in British politics but are desperately searching for an alternative switch to Ukip. It would of course go against the simplified media narrative that Ukip is for hardcore rightwing headbangers but in reality many voters are much more open-minded than most give them credit for. The great British general public really are in the mood for something different when you go and speak to them - and many of these types are former Lib Dem supporters.
This Survation poll says it all - 13 percent of 2010 Lib Dem voters in Eastleigh have switched to Ukip whilst only 5 percent have switched to Labour and 8 percent to the Conservatives. In Eastleigh, that Lib Dem vote accounted for 46.5 percent of the whole vote in 2010.
The Eastleigh by-election, called off the back of high-profile Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne resigning in highly negative circumstances, could be very interesting indeed.
Michael Heaver (@Michael_Heaver) is a right-wing activist and author of the political blog Heaver Hits. He was the first elected chairman of Ukip's youth wing, Young Independence, and has spoken on platforms alongside Ukip leader Nigel Farage
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