At the 2005 General Election Rob Wilson became the Conservative MP for Reading East with a majority of just 475 votes over Labour. Reading West returned Labour MP Martin Salter with a majority of 4,682.
Yesterday 6th May the people of Reading went to the polls once again and delivered resounding Conservative majorities in both Reading constituencies. The results were as follows:
Rob Wilson MP - Conservative 21,269 (15,557) - 42.6% (35.4%)
Gareth Epps – Lib Dem 13,664 (10,619) – 27.3% (24.2%)
Anneliese Dodds – Labour 12,729 (15,082) – 25.5% (34.3%)
Adrian Pitfield – UKIP 1,086 (849) – 2.2% (1.9%)
Rob White – Green 1,069 (1,548) – 2.1% (3.5%)
Jan Lloyd – Independent 111 (135) – 0.2% (0.3%)
Michael Turberville – Independent 57 (-) – 0.1% (-)
Conservative majority 7,605 / Turnout 66.76%
Alok Sharma MP – Conservative 20,523 (14,258) - 43.2% (33.9%)
Naz Sarkar – Labour 14,519 (18,940) – 30.6% (45%)
Daisy Benson – Lib Dem 9,546 (6,663) – 20.1% (15.8%)
Bruce Haye – UKIP 1,508 (1,180) – 3.2% (2.8%)
Howard Thomas – Commonsense Party 852 (-) – 1.8% (-)
Adrian Windisch – Green 582 (921) - 1.2% (2.2%)
Conservative majority 6,004 / Turnout 66.03%
These are very good results for the Conservatives but desperately bad news for Labour who will now have an uphill struggle to try to claw back their position. It must also be discouraging for the Lib Dems after the so-called “surge” and “Clegg bounce” which completely failed to materialise. Interestingly both Green candidates also did relatively badly when compared to 2005. UKIP however, saw a small advance in their vote share.
As is usual for Labour when facing defeat, very few of their senior personnel turned up to support their candidates. Council Leader Jo Lovelock was not there; Deputy Leader Tony Page was not there; Press Officer Pete Ruhemann was not there. The only people with red rosettes were the candidates agents and what seemed to be a small group of family and friends of the Labour candidates.
I well remember attending many counts at Rivermead when Labour swept the board and we always turned up to scrutinise the count and support our candidates. Labour were arrogant and contemptuous of all opposition. Last night both Alok Sharma and Rob Wilson were gracious to their defeated Labour opponents. However, Rob Wilson conspicuously did not praise the campaign run by Gareth Epps. He referred obliquely to the completely false claims in Epps’s final literature that the race was “Neck and Neck”. This is a standard Lib Dem tactic to mislead people into thinking that the Lib Dems have a chance of winning. In Reading East I suspect that it only served to motivate more Conservatives to come out and vote!
In a couple of hours time Reading politicians will reassemble at Rivermead Leisure Centre for the election count for Reading Borough Council. The Parliamentary results suggest that these will also be good news for the Conservatives!