Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 14:34 UK

Cameron hails 'end of New Labour'

Cameron leads victory rally

Conservative leader David Cameron says their first by-election gain since 1982 marks "the end of New Labour".

Mr Cameron told cheering supporters in Crewe and Nantwich that Labour had run a negative, xenophobic and class war campaign that "completely backfired".

He said overturning Labour's 7,000 majority "can be the start of something different and something bigger".

Labour leader Gordon Brown said the result showed his task was to tackle people's concerns about rising prices.

Asked if he thought he would lead Labour into the next election, Mr Brown said voters had shown they wanted him to steer the UK through "difficult economic times".

'Remarkable victory'

But that view was questioned by Labour MP Graham Stringer, who called for a senior cabinet minister to launch a leadership challenge to save Labour from electoral "disaster".

Tory candidate Edward Timpson won 7,860 more votes than his Labour rival - a 17.6% swing from the 2005 General Election.

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

Mr Cameron said it had been a "remarkable victory" but said: "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."

He said 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" and said the party would not let them down.

He criticised Labour's "negative.. xenophobic" and "class war" campaign and said it had backfired.

"I think what happened was that, for Labour, it was the end of being of being the party of aspiration, it was the end of being the party of opportunity, it was the end of New Labour, here on the streets of Crewe and Nantwich."

'On the rise'

He said he wanted an end to "big, top-down, bossy, interfering government" and people wanted "something different".

He pledged to build a "coalition for change in our country so we really can remove this government and give Britain a better chance".

The self-proclaimed "heir to Blair" is trying to use the Crewe and Nantwich result to declare New Labour dead and at the same time he is trying to claim leadership of the Blair coalition for himself
Nick Robinson
BBC Political Editor

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

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.

Mr Timpson said Labour had paid the price for the decision to scrap the 10p rate of income tax and said people "are seeing us as an alternative to Labour".

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

Gordon Brown reflects on the result in Crewe

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman acknowledged there were "discordant voices" among some Labour MPs.

But she 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."

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.

'Robust' campaign

Speculation is concentrating on 26 June or 3 July as likely dates for a contest.

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

During the by-election campaign Ms Dunwoody had criticised Mr Timpson's "Tory toff" background, but in the wake of defeat she said it was "robust but fun".

The Liberal Democrat candidate Ms Shenton said the government had been "very wrong" to "support a budget that taxed people on ordinary incomes more than the rich". And Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said they had done well to get as large a share they did, saying that normally in by-elections the third party gets squeezed down to 3% or less.

He told the BBC's Daily Politics the result had been an anti-Labour vote rather than a pro-Tory one.

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

A survey for BBC 2's Daily Politics programme suggested that twice as many people think David Cameron would make a good prime minister, than Gordon Brown.

Of those surveyed, 46% thought Mr Cameron would be the best prime minister, 23% backed Mr Brown and 7% backed Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

ComRes carried out the survey of 1,006 adults between 21 and 22 May.

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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