Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 15:52 UK

Cameron hails 'historic' poll win

Chloe Smith: "This by-election has been a victory for honest politics"

Conservative leader David Cameron has hailed his party's "historic" victory in the formerly Labour held seat of Norwich North.

Tory candidate Chloe Smith won with 13,591 - more than twice as many votes as Labour's Chris Ostrowski.

There was a swing from Labour to the Tories of 16.5% on a turnout of 46%.

Mr Cameron said the victory - only the Tories' second by-election win in a Labour seat for 27 years - showed people "want change in our country".

Labour said it was "disappointing" but the vote took place in "unprecedented circumstances".

'Moral compass'

Speaking to activists Mr Cameron praised the result - in which the Tories overturned a 5,459 Labour majority - and congratulated Ms Smith on fighting a "positive" campaign.

He accused Labour of running an "utterly despicable" campaign full of allegations about policies which were "not true".

He said: "I say to this prime minister who talks about courage and who talks about a moral compass, where was the courage in not even coming to this by-election?

Norwich North by-election
Chloe Smith (Con) 13,591 (39.5%)
Chris Ostrowski (Lab) 6,243 (18.16%)
April Pond (LD) 4,803 (13.97%)
Glenn Tingle (UKIP) 4,068 (11.83%)
Rupert Read (Green) 3,350 (9.74%)
Craig Murray (Ind) 953 (2.77%)
Robert West (BNP) 941 (2.74%)
Con majority 7,348 (21.37%) 16.49% swing Lab to Con
Turnout 34,377 (45.76%, down 15.33% on gen election)

"And where is the moral compass in allowing a campaign of lies and half truths about your opponents."

He said the result showed people had "had enough of Gordon Brown's dividing lines, has had enough of Gordon Brown's misleading claims about his opponents".

He said the "historic" by-election was "only the second time a Conservative victory has been had in a Labour seat in the last 27 years".

"I think it shows that people want change in our country," he added.

The Tories say if the vote share results were repeated across the country at a general election, the Conservatives would have a majority of 190.

The by-election was triggered by popular Labour MP Ian Gibson quitting after he was barred from standing again for the party over his expenses - sparking anger among some constituents.

The Lib Dems came third with 4,803, narrowly ahead of UKIP on 4,068, who enjoyed their best ever by-election result.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the result was a "disaster" for Labour and hailed an "excellent campaign" by his party's candidate, April Pond.

"Gordon Brown's growing failure as prime minister and his ham-fisted treatment of a popular MP have resulted in disaster for Labour," he said.

Brown disappointed

The Greens - who are the main opposition party on the local council - were pushed into fifth on 3,350, although it was also their best by-election result ever.

Gordon Brown acknowledged it was "clearly a disappointing result" for Labour but people should consider what was happening in the constituency.

"The voters were clearly torn between their anger and dismay at what's been happening with MPs' expenses, something we have been trying to clean up and at the same time support for the former MP, the Labour MP Ian Gibson, who was very popular.

"I don't think any party can take a great deal of cheer from this, the Conservative vote went down, the Liberal vote when down - only the fringe parties saw their votes going up."

Ms Smith, who at 27 will be the youngest MP in the House of Commons, paid tribute to Dr Gibson in her victory speech and wished her Labour rival Mr Ostrowski a speedy recovery - he was hospitalised with suspected swine flu days earlier. She will not take her seat officially until October, after the summer recess, but said she would be concentrating on her constituents.

"This isn't about me jumping off here and then going and living up on expenses for the three summer months," she said.

"This is about getting down to it, being honest, and being held to that. If I can be a very very good constituency MP and a very very good local representative for people here, then I hope they'll continue to put their trust in me and I hope I can serve them well."

Graph comparing by-election results to 2005 general election

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