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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Tories fail in weakest Labour seats
William Hague  in Northampton
William Hague campaigned hard in the target areas
The scale of the Conservative defeat is highlighted by the failure to regain ground in the traditionally Tory eastern region.

The party's top targets were scattered across the area, but they won back only one seat.

That victory was tainted by the loss of an existing seat to the Liberal Democrats.

Labour actually strengthened its grip on its two must vulnerable seats in the country.

Kettering was the most marginal Labour seat and the Tories' main target.

The Conservatives needed a swing of just of just 0.15% to win the constituency.

Lady Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher campaigned in Northampton
In the event there was a 0.4% swing from the Conservatives and Labour held the seat with a 665 majority.

Neighbouring Wellingborough was the next most vulnerable, with a Labour majority of just 187.

Labour increased its majority to a comfortable 2,355.

Other top seats on the Tory hit list included Northampton South, Milton Keynes North East and Harwich.

They all stayed Labour, dashing any Conservative hopes of redrawing the political map of the region.

There were crumbs of comfort for the Conservatives.

George Turner
George Turner lost his Labour seat
Henry Bellingham regained Norfolk North West from Labour's George Turner with a majority of 3,485.

They also held Brentwood and Ongar despite a strong challenge from the man in the white suit, the independent Martin Bell.

Conservative support fell away but Eric Pickles held on with a majority of 2,821.

The Conservatives' one gain was neutralised by the loss of Norfolk North to the Lib Dem Norman Lamb.

'East Anglian Mafia'

The Lib Dems increased their majority in the three-way marginal Colchester but despite a surge in support made no other gains.

The region was once known for its strong Conservative presence at Westminster through the so-called "East Anglian Mafia".

Those days now seem along way off and the region has said "goodbye" to such figures as John Major, John MacGregor and Teresa Gorman who all stood down at this election.

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