It's final countdown time in the battle for Eastleigh. Can you help elect Maria?
By Tim Montgomerie
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In the final few days of the battle for Eastleigh there is a new spring in the step of the Tory campaign. The bookies still favour the Liberal Democrats for many good reasons but Maria Hutchings is far from defeated. 500 Tory activists descended on the Hampshire constituency on Saturday despite arctic weather conditions and another 180 volunteers helped out yesterday. One new poll suggested that the Tories might be slightly ahead in the by-election. That poll was taken before the mushrooming coverage of the Rennard allegations and suggestions that Nick Clegg and senior Lib Dems tried to sweep the allegations under the carpet.
The Tory campaign is convinced that it has now found the right local message to hurt the Liberal Democrats and that issue is a housing development that has caused consternation among local people.
The latest election literature also has a broader feel. The anti-UKIP messages on immigration, Europe and welfare are still evident but so, too, is a big emphasis on David Cameron's "clear plan to fix Britain's economy". That message was promoted on poster vans of the kind pictured above and also in Maria's latest newspaper (download a PDF).
Help is needed in these crucial last few days either in person or via phone canvassing. If can spare any time at all to help ensure Maria Hutchings replaces Chris Huhne as Eastleigh's MP please click here or here. GO ON, BE PART OF IT!