Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 11:31 UK

Tories snatch Crewe from Labour

David Cameron reacts to the by-election result

The Conservatives have achieved their first by-election gain in 26 years, taking Crewe and Nantwich from Labour.

Tory candidate Edward Timpson won 7,860 more votes than his Labour rival, overturning a 7,000 Labour majority at the general election - a 17.6% swing.

David Cameron said it was a "remarkable victory", was the "end of New Labour" and the start of "something bigger".

Labour leader Gordon Brown said the clear message was that voters wanted him to address economic worries.

He said people were concerned about rising food and fuel prices and the task "that I have" was to steer the UK through "difficult economic times".

'Encouraging'

Speaking outside his home on Friday, Mr Cameron said: "The Conservatives won a remarkable victory last night in Crewe and Nantwich and I want to congratulate Edward Timpson and everyone who took part in his campaign.

"But I know that winning a by-election and winning a general election are two different things and we've still got a huge amount of work to do."

RESULT AT-A-GLANCE
Pie chart
Edward Timpson
Conservative: 20,539
Tamsin Dunwoody
Labour: 12,679
Elizabeth Shenton
Lib Dems: 6,040

He added that it was "encouraging" that "thousands of people who have never voted Conservative before have come across and put their trust in the Conservative Party".

He said he aimed to show them that the party would not let them down.

"I want to build over the coming months, over the coming years, the biggest coalition for change in our country so we really can remove this government and give Britain a better chance."

The contest followed the death of veteran Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who had represented Crewe and Nantwich since the seat was created in 1983.

The area's new MP, Mr Timpson, said voters had "rejected the old politics and voted for the positive alternative put forward by the Conservative Party".

He said the government had paid the price for the decision to scrap the 10p rate of income tax, adding: "Gordon Brown just does not get it and the government needs to change."

It was a bad result for Labour last night.
Harriet Harman
Labour's deputy leader

The by-election comes weeks after Labour's poorest local election results in 40 years.

Mr Timpson, a 34-year-old barrister, took 20,539 votes. The Labour candidate, Mrs Dunwoody's daughter Tamsin Dunwoody, was second on 12,679, with Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Shenton third on 6,040.

Turnout was 58.2%, high for a by-election, but was down slightly from 60% at the 2005 general election.

Bad to worse

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman told the BBC: "It was a bad result for Labour last night. But I think we have to understand what lies behind it and what lies behind it is people's sense of their own prospects and the fact people are feeling the pinch."

She said people wanted "their immediate concerns addressed, that food's going up, fuel prices are going up and they want the government to very strongly focus on what we can do to back them up".

Edward Timpson's victory speech

She said the result had not been "a judgement from voters about our campaign" - shadow chancellor George Osborne accused them of resorting to "personal class war attacks" and "dog whistle" politics on immigration.

Ms Harman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she knew there were "discordant voices" among some Labour MPs - but added: "The overwhelming majority of people in the Labour Party - and I speak to constituency chairs up and down the country ... they are fully behind Gordon Brown."

The campaign has taken place during a difficult few weeks for the prime minister, who has followed a poor set of local election results with the row over the abolition of the 10p tax rate.

'Robust' campaign

Mr Cameron is expected to capitalise on the victory by calling an early by-election in Henley, the Westminster seat due to be vacated by new London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The Tories hope to build on their momentum, with 26 June or 3 July being talked of as the likely dates for a contest.

HAVE YOUR SAY
At last the country is becoming wise to this terrible Labour Government.
Stuart McGregor, Glasgow

During canvassing in Crewe and Nantwich, Ms Dunwoody criticised Mr Timpson's "Tory toff" background, leading to accusations that Labour was using "class war" tactics.

In her speech following the result declaration, Ms Dunwoody described the campaign as "robust but fun".

She said to Mr Timpson: "It is an honour to serve the people of Crewe and Nantwich. It is an honour I hope you take seriously - I and everyone will be watching you."

The Liberal Democrat candidate Ms Shenton told the government: "You need to know that you were very wrong when you supported a budget that taxed people on ordinary incomes more than the rich."

But she said she had not met anyone on the campaign trail who said they wanted a Conservative government.

The Conservative Party's last by-election gain was in Mitcham and Morden, south-west London, in 1982.

The full results from the Crewe and Nantwich by-election were:

  • Edward Timpson (Con) 20,539 (49.49%, 16.93% increase on 2005 share of vote)
  • Tamsin Dunwoody (Lab) 12,679 (30.55%, -18.29%)
  • Elizabeth Shenton (Lib Dem) 6,040 (14.55%, -4.03%)
  • Mike Nattrass (UKIP) 922 (2.22%)
  • Robert Smith (Green) 359 (0.87%)
  • David Roberts (Eng Dem) 275 (0.66%)
  • The Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony) 236 (0.57%)
  • Mark Walklate (Ind) 217 (0.52%)
  • Paul Thorogood (Cut Tax on Diesel and Petrol) 118 (0.28%)
  • Gemma Garrett (Ind) 113 (0.27%)



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