Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Labour ministers fall like flies

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has lost her Redditch constituency
Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has lost her Redditch constituency
Labour's Ed Balls held his Morley and Outwood seat, denying the Tories their 'Portillo' moment
The Liberal Democrats ousted another former home secretary when Charles Clarke lost his Norwich South seat

Labour ministers have fallen like flies in a tough night for the party.

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was among the biggest scalps claimed by the Conservatives, losing her Redditch seat. And the Liberal Democrats ousted another former home secretary when Charles Clarke lost his Norwich South seat.

But the Tories were denied their "Portillo moment" as Labour Schools Secretary Ed Balls narrowly took the new Morley and Outwood constituency. The Tories had been hoping to decapitate Mr Balls, but he won with a majority of 1,101.

Former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, who paid back more than £13,000 in capital gains tax during the expenses scandal, was another survivor, holding on to her Salford and Eccles seat with a majority of more than 5,000.

Ms Smith, who was forced to apologise last year for an expenses claim which included adult films watched by her husband Richard Timney, remained straight-faced as she became one of the most high profile casualties of the General Election. The former "Blair Babe" received 13,317 votes, which meant losing her Redditch constituency to Tory Karen Lumley who won 19,138 votes.

Mr Clarke, who has repeatedly criticised Gordon Brown's leadership, lost his Norwich South seat to the Liberal Democrats' Simon Wright who secured a narrow majority of 310 votes. He said: "I blame my loss on the fact that we were not able to make our case."

Elsewhere, Labour Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell lost his Harlow seat in a 5.9% swing to the Conservatives. Tory Robert Halfon won with 19,691 votes, compared with Mr Rammell's 14,766.

The Conservatives ousted three Labour health ministers. Health Minister Mike O'Brien lost at Warwickshire North to Conservative candidate Dan Byles, who secure a majority of just 54. Care Services Minister Phil Hope lost to Tory Louise Bagshawe, who won with 22,886 votes compared with Mr Hope's 20,935. Public Health Minister Gillian Merron received 16,105 votes, but it was not enough to beat Tory Karl McCartney who won 17,163.

Communities Minister Shahid Malik lost his Dewsbury seat to the Conservatives' Simon Reevell, Solicitor General Vera Baird lost to the Liberal Democrats in Redcar and Third Sector Minister Angela Smith lost to the Tories' Stephen Metcalfe.

The Conservatives seized the Stafford seat from Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney, who polled 16,587 compared with winner Jeremy Lefroy's 22,047 votes. And International Development Minister Mike Foster lost his seat in Worcester to the Tories' Robin Walker, who polled 19,358 votes compared with Mr Foster's 16,376, a swing of 6.43% to the Conservatives.

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