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Crushed in Crewe: voters flee Labour

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 23 May 2008

A 17.6 per cent swing sees Labour lose a by-election to the Tories for the first time in 30 years.

Conservative candidate Edward Timpson scored an emphatic victory in last night's Crewe and Nantwich by-election overturning a 7,000 Labour majority

Timpson won 20,539 votes while his Labour opponent Tamsin Dunwoody, daughter of the late Gwyneth Dunwoody, won 12,679 votes.

Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Shenton was squeezed by the direct fight between the two bigger parties, scoring just 6,040 votes or 14.5 per cent.

The result marks the Conservative party's first by-election win since 1982 and the first time it has taken a seat from Labour mid-term since 1978.

The result comes at the end of a disastrous month for Labour which has seen the party lose heavily in the local elections, Ken Livingstone kicked out as mayor of London and its opinion poll rating free-fall to an average of 26 per cent, 18 points behind the Conservatives.

It has also been a bad month personally for Gordon Brown who has seen his personal ratings in the polls plummet. He was also forced to perform a u-turn of sorts over the abolition of the 10p tax band, one of his last acts as chancellor in 2007.

In his victory speech, Timpson identified 10p tax as one of the key factors in the campaign. He said the voters of Crewe and Nantwich had "sent a message loud and clear: Gordon just doesn't get it and the government needs to change."

Dunwoody said: "The Labour Party in adversity and in the good times, holds strong and stays united ... we will continue to fight."

Left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell said: "It would be an immense misreading of the situation for New Labour ministers to dismiss this result as simply mid term blue.,"

Timpson gained 49 per cent of the vote on a turnout of 58 per cent. A 7,078 Labour majority in the 2005 general election has now become a 7,860 Conservative majority.

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