Bexley by-election: Charlie Stayt grills Oliver Dowden on result
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Although the Conservatives managed to keep hold of their Old Bexley and Sidcup seat, the Tory majority has been cut from nearly 19,000 votes to 4,478, with a 10.3 percent swing to Labour. Bexley is a traditionally strong area for the Conservatives, and the party has held the seat since its creation in 1983.
In the 2019 general election, James Bronkenshire – who had held the seat since 2010 – won 64.5 percent of votes, in contrast the Labour candidate won 23.5 percent.
This year, Louie French won 51.5 percent of votes, and Labour candidate Daniel Francis won 30.9 percent.
Labour haven’t won over such a high percentage of voters in Old Bexley and Sidcup since 2001.
James Brokenshire sadly passed away in October from lung cancer at age 53, which triggered the by-election.
Shadow Solicitor General Ellie Reeves, who helped run Labour’s campaign, told LBC that the party is “back in business”, calling the swing “fantastic”.
She said: “If replicated at a general election Labour would be within reach of forming a majority government.”
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Labour’s Ellie Reeves, MP for nearby Lewisham West and Penge, said she was “pleased with the result”.
“This is a Conservative stronghold, somewhere that had a 19,000 majority at the last general election and what we’ve seen tonight is that majority being slashed,” she added.
Ms Reeves suggested the Labour party were “winning back the trust” of the electorate.
She said: “We’ve been knocking on doors for weeks here and finding many, many Conservative voters that have said actually I’m not going to vote for them this time, I’m going to vote for Labour.
“I think it’s clear that we’re winning back the trust of people and it’s a remarkable result for us in a Tory stronghold.”
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But Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden told BBC Breakfast the reduced majority for his party “reflected a very low turnout”.
He described the victory as a “good solid result for us”, adding it was consistent with elections held in the middle of a Parliament.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “This idea that Labour have made some surge ahead is really for the birds.”
Only 21,733 people came out to vote out of the 64,831 registered voters in the area. The turnout for the previous general election was more than double this.
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Political commentators have suggested that the events of recent months have lost Tory voters’ trust.
With tax rises for working families, ‘Tory sleaze’ corruption scandals, and letters of no confidence submitted against the Prime Minister, many are questioning whether Boris Johnson is losing grip of his leadership.
Labour Party national campaign coordinator, Shabana Mahmood, told Sky News Mr Johnson’s “litany of broken promises” were starting to catch up with the Prime Minister.
She told viewers that the fact Labour had increased their share of the vote by such a big percentage in Old Bexley and Sidcup was indicative of public opinion shifting.
“They are fed up with the sleaze, they are fed up with the broken promises – and I think a lot of voters registered that yesterday,” she added.
Currently, Labour are three percentage points down from the Conservatives in the polls, according to research conducted by YouGov.
These results come after Labour overtook the Conservatives in the polls in November, for the first time in a year.
Do you think a significant portion of Tory voters will swing to Labour in the next general election? Have your say in the comments section below.
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