Conservative Stephen McPartland sees off Labour challenge to retain Stevenage seat
PUBLISHED: 03:15 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:25 31 December 2019
Conservative candidate Stephen McPartland has held off a Labour challenge to retain his Stevenage seat.
Bolstered by the exit poll which forecasted a strong majority for the Conservatives, Mr McPartland was re-elected Member of Parliament for Stevenage with 25,328 votes to Labour's 16,766 - a 3.4 per cent favourable swing.
In truth, this was a more comfortable hold than many were expecting, with Labour failing to capitalise on substantial inroads made in 2017 - when they slashed the Conservative majority to just 3,384 votes.
Elsewhere, Liberal Democrat candidate Lisa Nash took home 4,132 votes - more than double the party's return in 2017 - while Victoria Snelling of the Green Party received 1,457 votes.
In total, 66.9% of the constituency turned out - a slight reduction on 2017 which saw a 69.9% turnout.
Reflecting on his win, Mr McPartland said: "I am delighted by the result both locally and nationally. It is a huge honour to be re-elected again as the Member of Parliament for Stevenage and the surrounding villages.
"We have achieved a lot together with massive infrastructure investments in our local schools, hospital, GP surgeries, housing, trains and roads. There is a lot more investment to come, for example construction starts on widening the A1(M) next March, as we make Stevenage the economic engine of Hertfordshire.
You may also want to watch:
"I will continue to focus on improving the services local people experience and would like to thank everyone who voted for me. Whether it was for the first time or not, I am proud you have placed your trust in me and I will repay it by working hard for you."
Labour candidate Jill Borcherds said she "felt the Labour party had made real progress" despite losing out, and called on her party to continue the fight against Conservative austerity.
She added: "It's not about me. I'll go back to school. Doing what I love, teaching Maths in Stevenage. I am disappointed for the people who voted and wanted that real change.
"What distresses me the most is the thought of going back into school and teaching for five more years under a Conservative government. I have seen the way schools have changed, and the real effects austerity is having on real kids who are suffering. My husband was in town today and spoke to some young women who were literally frightened of a Conservative government.
Reflecting on the Labour campaign, Jill said she had "always fought the campaign to win", and felt it was "too close to call for many weeks".
"The Stevenage Labour family have worked their socks off - quite literally today, when we were lending out dry socks. One campaigner was able to say on a voter's doorstep: 'I am wearing the candidate's socks'.
"What we've said all along is that we want to talk about the policies. Moving away from the soundbites and personalities, we have made ourselves accessible and honest."
Liberal Democrat candidate Lisa Nash said she was "proud" of what her "small team had achieved", particularly after voters in Stevenage had been "the victim of tactical voting, which meant Liberal Democrat voters were advised to back Labour".
More reaction from Stephen McPartland to follow.