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The BBC's Guto Harri
"Labour saw off the threat"
 real 56k

The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Turnout is the big question here"
 real 28k

Michael Ancram, Conservative Party chairman
"Opinion polls are very fluid at the moment"
 real 28k

Stephen Byers, Trade and Industry Secretary
"We have to stand on our record"
 real 28k

Friday, 24 November, 2000, 07:20 GMT
Labour wins by-elections battle
Labour's Adrian Bailey
Labour's Adrian Bailey wins West Bromwich West
Labour has won three Westminster by-elections in a clean sweep of the contests - but all were marked by low turnouts.

They were victorious in West Bromwich West by 3,232 votes, held Preston with a majority of 4,426 and held Glasgow Anniesland by 6,337 votes.

The party also won the Scottish Parliament seat of Glasgow Anniesland.

West Bromwich West result
Lab: 9,640 (51.06%)
Tory: 6,408 (33.94%)
Lib Dems:1,791 (9.49%)
BNP: 794 (4.21%)
UK Ind: 246 (1.30%)
Lab. maj. 3,232 (17.12%)
The polls were seen as the widest electoral test of Tony Blair's government before an expected general election in May.

Of all the contests the Glasgow turnout was highest, with 38.42% of the registered electorate bothering to vote.

While far lower than an average general election poll, the figure was higher than both other by-elections held in England on so-called "super Thursday".

The turnout at Preston was 29.7% while in West Bromwich West it was even lower at 27.6%.

Tories took heart from what they said was a significant swing in their favour in Preston and Glasgow, where comparisons are possible with the 1997 results, both Labour "heartland" seats.

Preston result
Labour: 9,765 (45.71%)
Tory: 5,339 (24.99%)
Lib Dem: 3,454 (16.17%)
Lancs Socialist: 1,210 (5.66%)
UK Ind: 458 (2.14%)
Green: 441 (2.06%)
Preston All: 416 (1.95%)
BNP: 229 (1.07%)
BBCAP: 51 (0.24%)
Lab. maj. 4,426 (20.72%)
It was "good news" for Conservative prospects at the next election, said party chairman Michael Ancram.

But Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid hailed the results as "excellent" for Labour.

He argued Conservatives would have to be winning government seats at this stage of the parliament if they were to have any chance of victory in an approaching general election.

West Bromwich West was left vacant following the retirement of Betty Boothroyd as speaker of the House of Commons.

Though previously a safe Labour seat, the by-election was the first time the constituency had a genuine contest since 1992, when Miss Boothroyd took 55% of the vote, with a majority of 7,830.

She was virtually unopposed at the 1997 election, as is the tradition with the speaker's seat.

Labour's Mark Hendrick
Labour's victorious Preston candidate Mark Hendrick
This time Labour's Adrian Bailey won with 9,640 votes, beating the Conservatives on 6,408 and Liberal Democrats with 1,791.

The Preston poll was held after the death in September of veteran Labour MP Audrey Wise, who held the seat with an 18,680 majority in 1997, hoovering up 61% of the vote.

Mark Hendrick, a former MEP for the area, won with 9,765 votes compared to 5,339 for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats on 3,454.

The death of Scotland's first minister Donald Dewar in October left vacancies for both his Westminster and Holyrood seats.

Mr Dewar secured a 15,154 majority for Labour at the last general election with 62% of the vote.

Glasgow Anniesland - Westminster result
Labour: 10,539 (52.14%)
SNP: 4,202 (20.79%)
Tory: 2,188 (10.83%)
Lib Dem: 1,630 (8.06%)
Scottish Socialists: 1,441 (7.13%)
Family Action Movement 212 (1.05%)
Lab. maj. 6,337 (31.35%)
Then in 1999, at the first election to the new Scottish Parliament, he also became the constituency MSP with a majority of 10,993.

This time John Robertson, chief of the local Anniesland Labour Party, succeeded Mr Dewar at Westminster with 10,539 votes.

The SNP polled 4,202, the Tories 2,188 and Liberal Democrats 1,630.

In the Scottish Parliament contest, Labour's Glasgow city councillor Bill Butler won with 9,838 votes.

The SNP gained 4,462, the Conservatives 2,148, while the Scottish Socialist Party polled 1,429 - beating the Liberal Democrats into fifth place with 1,384.

Dr Reid hailed the results, saying governments traditionally do badly in by-elections.

Glasgow Anniesland - Scot Parl result
Labour: 9,838 (48.65%)
SNP: 4,462 (22.07%)
Tory: 2,148 (10.62%)
Scottish Socialists: 1,429 (7.07%)
Lib Dem: 1,384 (6.84%)
Scottish Greens: 662 (3.27%)
Socialist Labour: 298 (1.47%)
Lab. maj. 5,376 (26.59%)
"If there was any public enthusiasm for the idea of William Hague as Prime Minister, the Tories would be taking seats like West Bromwich and Preston.

"Mr Hague will be a very worried man this morning."

But Conservative chairman Michael Ancram said: "I am pleased with these results."

"In Labour heartlands, we have shown that we can achieve a favourable swing from the position we were in 1992, when we won the general election."

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy said: "The by-elections show no enthusiasm for Labour, no hope for the Tories and a steady advance for the Liberal Democrats."

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See also:

24 Nov 00 | Scotland
Labour holds Dewar seats
24 Nov 00 | Talking Politics
By-election results in full
23 Nov 00 | Scotland
Anniesland goes to the polls
11 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
PM leads Dewar tributes
04 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Labour MP Audrey Wise dies
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Speaker Betty Boothroyd to retire
24 Nov 00 | UK Politics
By-election relief for Blair
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