Lib Dems target Tory marginal
A TOP Lib Dem says a Tory-held marginal seat in South Devon is 'high on the list' for his party after its success in the Eastleigh by-election, where the Conservatives were pushed into third place.
The party's president Tim Farron, jubilant in the wake of his party's win, suggested it left the Lib Dems in 'a very strong position to start gaining seats from the Conservatives' at the General Election.
And Newton Abbot, which is held with a Tory majority of just 523, was 'high up on the list'.
Sitting Newton Abbot Tory MP Anne Marie Morris admitted the result in Eastleigh, where the UK Independence Party took second place above the Conservatives, was 'extremely disappointing'.
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But she warned against making 'sweeping generalisations' based on one election result, and stressed her priority was to continue representing her constituents.
The Eastleigh poll was a massive test for the Lib Dems, triggered by the resignation of disgraced ex-Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, and following a week of negative headlines about Mr Clegg's handling of sexual harassment allegations against former chief executive Lord Rennard. Tory Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the result was 'disappointing' for his party, but insisted he was 'confident' in the 2015 General Election the Tories would be able to win back the voters who deserted them.
Buoyed by the result, Mr Farron said it meant 20 to 30 Tory seats were now vulnerable to his party at the General Election.
Mrs Morris said: "The result in Eastleigh is extremely disappointing, but I do offer my congratulations to the winning candidate."
However, she added: "I believe we must exercise extreme caution in trying to make sweeping generalisations based on one election result.
"My focus will remain on continuing to represent my constituents to the best of my ability and I look forward to working both in our local communities and in Parliament in order to do just that."
Labour came in fourth place in Eastleigh, and will be disappointing for Opposition leader Ed Miliband, who had hailed the by-election as a test for his 'One Nation' message.
The party has been trying to show it is a party of the whole country and not just traditional northern heartlands, and is looking to increase the number of seats it has across the south.