24/07/2009

Tories Win Norwich North Seat

A Conservative candidate has won the parliamentary by-election in Norwich North, taking a majority of over 7,000.

There was more than a 15% fall in voter turnout at the polls, the first major Westminster ballot since revelations over MPs' expenses.

Conservative runner Chloe Smith secured the vote, overturning a 2005 Labour majority of over 5,000.

Miss Smith, now the youngest Commons MP, gained 13,591 votes - more than twice as many picked up by Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski who had 6,243 votes.

The Lib Dems came third with 4,803, just ahead of UKIP on 4,068 and the Greens on 3,350.

There was a swing from Labour to the Tories of 16.5% on a turnout of 45%.

At the last general election Labour was first past the post with 21,000 votes.

Labour had held the seat since 1997, but a by-election was called when Ian Gibson resigned and was effectively de-selected by his party.

Paying tribute to Dr Gibson's work, which he did with "honesty and conviction", Miss Smith said: "The people of Norwich North have rejected the old politics of personal attacks, of bickering, of smears and scare stories.

"They have voted for change. And in doing so they have sent a message to Gordon Brown very loud and very clear."

Tory leader David Cameron made his sixth visit to the constituency yesterday in a bid to bolster his party's polling.

Last night, former cabinet minister Geoff Hoon conceded that it would be "difficult" for 28-year-old Labour contender Mr Ostrowski to hold the seat.

According to Shadow Cabinet member Theresa May, if today's results were repeated at the next general election, the Conservatives could come to power with a majority of more than 100.

(PR/JM)

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