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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 05:54 GMT
Labour holds Ogmore with cut majority
Labour has won the Ogmore by-election with a reduced majority of just over 5,700.

The new MP is Huw Irranca-Davies, 38, a Swansea Institute lecturer who was the party's surprise choice.

He beat off opposition from nine other candidates for the seat Labour has held since 1918 after just over 18,400 people cast their vote.

Election result
Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab) - 9,548
Bleddyn Hancock (P Cymru) - 3,827
Veronica Watkins (Lib Dem) - 1,608
Guto Bebb (Cons) - 1,377
Chris Herriot (Soc Lab) - 1,152
Jonathan Spink (Green Party) - 250
Jeff Hurford (Socialist Alliance) - 205
Leslie Edwards (Official Monster Raving Loony Party) - 187
Captain Beany (New Millennium Bean Party) - 122
Reverend David Braid (Ind) - 100

The relatively low turn-out rate of 35.3% - compared to 58.2% at the 2001 General Election - is set to fuel fears of voter apathy.

The campaign in the constituency was overshadowed by the row over the prime minister's support for an overseas steel magnate, at a time when thousands of Welsh steel workers were being laid off.

The poll was prompted by the death of the constituency's veteran Labour MP Sir Ray Powell in December 2001.

Sir Ray represented the seat for 22 years and had a 14,574 majority at the 2001 General Election.

Mr Irranca-Davies was picked to contest what had always been seen as a safe Labour seat ahead of some better known candidates such as Cardiff's Lord Mayor Russell Goodway.

He also defeated two women Labour contenders, an adviser to former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, and a senior member of the neighbouring Aberavon constituency party.

Main challenger

Mr Irranca-Davies, who stood for the Brecon and Radnor seat in the 2001 General Election, noted voter apathy during the hustings as an issue to be addressed.

He said the answer to apathy was in presenting a vision of the future and raising people's aspirations.

Huw Irranca-Davies
Huw Irranca-Davies MP
In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Irranca-Davies revealed his unusual surname includes the family name of his wife who hails from a Sardinian background.

The main challenger in the seat was Plaid Cymru's Bleddyn Hancock, Welsh secretary of the miners' union Nacods, who came second with 3,827 votes, a swing of more than 8% from Labour.

Liberal Democrat Veronica Watkins polled 1,608 with Conservative Guto Bebb in fourth place with 1,377.

The Socialist Labour Party's Chris Herriot came close to catching him with 1,152 votes - saving his 500 deposit.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Wyre Davies
"There was no shock when the results came through"
BBC Wales's David Cornock
"Ogmore has been Labour since 1918"
See also:

17 Dec 01 | Wales
Funeral for veteran MP Sir Ray
09 Dec 01 | Wales
Veteran Labour MP dies
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