Eastleigh byelection: voters will look beyond Chris Huhne, says Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has said he hopes voters in the Eastleigh byelection will look beyond the "courtoom drama" of the Chris Huhne legal case and vote for the Liberal Democrats on the basis of their achievements in government.

As a poll gave the Lib Dems a narrow lead over the Conservatives in the Hampshire seat before the byelection on 28 February, the deputy prime minister said he believed that most voters would focus on jobs.

Clegg was speaking on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News after a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday placed the Lib Dems on 36% (down 10.5 points on the 2010 election), with the Tories in second place on 33% (down 6.3 points). Ukip was on 16% (up 12.4 points), with Labour on 13% (up 3.4 points).

The Lib Dems selected Mike Thornton, a parish and borough councillor, as their candidate on Saturday night. Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate in 2010, will stand again for the Tories.

Clegg said: "I think most people will be able to separate the courtroom drama, which at the end of the day is a very private drama being played out in public by divisions within a family, I don't think people will make their judgment on that about who they want to represent them in Parliament for the future.

"I think what people will care about is what does it mean for jobs in the local area, what does it mean for housing in the local area, what does it mean for fair taxes in the local area. Those are they kind of things we are going to be campaigning on between now and by-election day."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nicholas Watt, for The Guardian on Sunday 10th February 2013 19.53 Europe/London

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