ELECTION 2017 NORTHAMPTON NORTH: Tories win...but only just as Labour come within 800 votes
It was an evening of intense pressure and sweaty brows for Northampton North candidates at Lings Forum.
From watching David Dimbleby reveal the exit polls to a sudden bundle count for Northampton North, it has not been a smooth sailing night for the Tory party, which ended just before 5am in tired relief.
Conservative Michael Ellis, who sheepishly refused to speak to all members of the press before ballots were counted, won 19,065 votes to claim a Conservative hold.
In his victory speech, he said: “The people of Northampton North are the people I owe the most respect.
“It’s a great honour to serve the people of my home town.
“I pledge to continue to work as I have done for the last seven years for the whole of this community.”
Closely tailing behind with 18,258 votes was Labour’s Sally Keeble who made an appearance just before 3am.
Addressing those who voted for her, she said: “What you did, you voted for poor communities, our schools, our houses, our police services, you voted for older people to be treated with dignity.
“This time it wasn’t enough to get us over the finish line.
“The Labour party is re-energised by this campaign - at the next election we will be waiting.”
But what stood out the most on the night and indeed the very early hours of Friday, June 9 is how the smaller parties have struggled to drum up support, UKIP and the Green Party both claiming that the election has been a two-horse race.
Before the results were announced, Green Party candidate, Stephen Miller, who won 636 votes, said: “We hoped to make gains didn’t we and as far as I could tell that’s not materialised.
“Brighton Pavillion is our big vote and we’re optimistic we’ll still make it.”
On asking what the campaign has been like on the doorstep, he said: “We’ve been getting squeezed, so you know, realistically we have known across all of Northamptonshire we have been getting squeezed.
Did he think people have been voting nationally rather than locally? “Yes, I think that’s fair, it feels a bit like the sort of message of this election is either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May and you have to make a decision between Jeremy or Theresa, austerity or non austerity and all the little parties are getting squeezed out.
“I have looked at the results in Northampton so far and UKIP and Lib Dems and Greens have lost their deposit in every result so far.
“Its annoying isnt it? We came into it not really anticipating to win the election, it would be nice to show increase in one or two of the constituencies and I think we are going to fall back in all of the constituencies but again I dont think it necessarily reflects on the work we have done or performances we have done, it is a national narrative.
“It’s difficult to get your voice heard as a small party.”
UKIP’s Jonathon Bullock bagged 1,404 votes in Northampton North while Liberal Democrats George Smid claimed 1,015 ballots.
During the night of political drama, Jonathon said, while votes were being counted, that he was sure UKIP supporters would back the party after the election.
On asking what is the next step for the party, he said: “I think what’s happened is we have ended up with a two party system in this election where a lot of UKIP supporters have leant their vote either to the Tories or labour on various issues, not just Brexit.
“But I’m absolutley sure that after the election that our support will return not least because we see if the Conservatives remain in power there will be more for them to sell out on brexit and people will return to us.
“On the doorstep I have found half the people saying I have leant my votes to mainly the Tories, but also Labour and about half the people saying they’re keeping with us.
“We found people agreed with us on all of our issues but we weren’t in a winning position.
“It has been a two-horse race, Corbyn got the anti-establishment vote, which we have lost on.”