POLITICIANS promise voters the Earth but rarely deliver, so the forthcoming Eastleigh by-election could be a shambles.
Turnout will hopefully be better than the miserable record low 15 per cent for the recent Police and Crime Commissioners fiasco, but comedy rather than serious politics is likely to be the interest which will boost Eastleigh voter numbers.
A jaded and long-suffering electorate needs some encouragement to spark enough energy to go down to the polling booths this Thursday.
If they haven’t already made up their minds, then when they get there they will face a bewildering choice of 14 different candidates.
Sadly voters’ efforts to shine a bit of light in to manifesto dark places are unlikely to illuminate any causes for hope with any of the main parties.
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats carved the Government coalition cake up between them, but the knife used for that seems likely to be planted firmly in Liberal Democrat backs after Tories promised to fiercely contest the seat.
Conservatives have a greater control of Government than their partner, so this will count against them in the by-election as austerity-hit voters are unlikely to fancy too much more of the same.
By the same token, the Liberal Democrats would appear to be struggling for credibility since the seat is only up for grabs because ex-Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne stood down after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Then there is Labour and its candidate John O’Farrell, a man who has said publicly that he wishes the IRA had done a better job with the Brighton bombing and was “disappointed” they didn’t kill then PM Margaret Thatcher. I’d suggest that comment comfortably shot his chances in the foot.
The United Kingdom Independence Party is still trying to paper over MEP Martya Andreasen’s defection to the Tories and her claim UKIP is “an old boys’ club” and that the Conservatives are the “true referendum party” for this country’s future in or out of Europe.
If voters are looking for hope then the remaining ten candidates promise to entertain them without seriously threatening to hold down a seat in the House of Commons.
People can take their choice from the usual Monster Raving Loony to a booking at the Heartbreak Hotel with David Bishop who is the candidate for the delightfully named Elvis Loves Pets party.
Others vying for votes include the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party, National Health Action, Peace and Wessex Regionalist, a collection of attitudes which are collectively unlikely to carry the day never mind individually.
So the only way forward that I can see of coming up with a platform which can be all things to all men, all women and all those in between is to take the plunge and vote for the Ballot Paper Spoiled Party.
It appears to be the only party in election history which has always got votes.
Go to any election and just before the result of a seat is announced you’ll see all the candidates pulled over by the Returning Officer and shown a little wire basket in which are a load of dubious, spoiled or dodgy votes.
These can range from political extremists who scrawl “Hope you all lose” across their paper to those political party supporters who are so ardent that they make two “Xs” to show the strength of their feelings, often in a box meant for another candidate.
Whatever the reason, these votes nearly always end up in the “spoiled papers” basket.
So, if you want to stand and be in with a shout, then form the Ballot Party Spoiled Party and you’re practically assured of some support.
It is too late to do so for Eastleigh, but let’s face it. With politicians’ seemingly endless addiction for sex, crime and rock and poll, it won’t be too long before another by-election comes along.