Friday, May 07, 2010

Humiliation for Labour in election

Looking upset after losing her seat in Redditch, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said it had been "an immense honour" to have served and "I'm obviously sad that's come to an end tonight". She said it was important to take part in elections "when you fear you're going to lose, as well as when you think you're going to win". BBC's Nick Robinson said the problem Jacqui Smith had was that she became synonymous with expenses abuse. "Remember those pornographic films - even before the Daily Telegraph got hold of that now infamous computer disk and set the whole scandalous ball rolling," Robinson commented on her loss.

Smith was not the only departure. Local government minister Shahid Malik lost his seat to the Conservatives in Dewsbury. Earlier, health minister Phil Hope and defence minister Bill Rammell both said goodbye to theirs. However Ed Balls managed to scrape in. The BBC's veteran political correspondent David Dimbleby said the Tories had been denied their "Portillo moment". After the result, Balls acknowledged it was "quite close" and paid tribute to his Conservative opponent for fighting a "straight" and "decent" campaign.

It had been a bad night for Labour with more than 55 seats lost, most to the Conservatives. However few within the Labour party were willing to concede defeat throughout the night. Only David Blunket admitted Labour had lost. "My instinct that we have regrettably lost the election," he told the BBC. Neil Kinnock while not accepting the party was over said earlier that, "it' s not good."

However, despite the loses, it was still not clear what the final outcome would be as dawn approached. At 5 am the Conservative Party had won 234 seats against Labour's 179. The Liberal Democrats had also failed to make any headway, losing some territory to the Conservatives.

The final result may not be clear until midday, and even then there may be further political tussles if, as many pundits predict, a hung parliament results. There are also likely to be recriminations after hundreds of voters were not allowed to cast their votes after staffing problems and ballot paper shortages in a number of constituencies. There were angry scenes at some polling stations with some residents holding sit-ins. In some instances police had to be called to keep order.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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