Conservative Diary

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Chloe Smith elected MP for Norwich North


I calculate that Chloe was elected on a swing to the Conservatives from Labour of 16.5%. A brilliant result - far better than anyone had expected. Congratulations to Chloe, who is now the youngest Member of the House of Commons and the youngest female Conservative MP in history (and also a fellow York graduate to boot, albeit five years below me!)

The full result was as follows:

Chloe Smith (Conservative) - 13,591 (39.5% +6.3%)
Chirs Ostrowski (Labour) - 6,243 (18.2% -26.7%)
April Pond (Lib Dem) - 4,803 (14.0% -2.2%)
Glenn Tingle (UKIP) - 4,068 (11.8% +9.4%)
Rupert Read (Green) - 3,350 (9.7% +7.0%)
Craig Murray (Honest Man) - 953 (2.8%)
Robert West (BNP) - 941 (2.7%)
Bill Holden (Ind) - 166 (0.5% -0.1%)
Alan "Howling Laud" Hope (Loony) - 144 (0.4%)
Anne Fryatt (NOTA) - 59 (0.2%)
Thomas Burridge (Libertarian) - 36 (0.1%)
Peter Baggs (Ind) - 23 (0.1%)

Earlier updates:

12.50pm Agents have been given the result - should be announced imminently. Sky say Conservative majority of 7,348

12.45pm Andrew Sparrow suggest the parties are placed (according to the Tories): Conservatives - first; Labour - second; Lib Dems - third; Greens - fourth; UKIP - fifth.

12.40pm Sky's Miranda Richardson points out that Norwich's first ever Gay Pride is getting underway this afternoon. Will David Cameron and his newest MP be putting in an appearance?!

12.35pm Vernon Bogdanor on the BBC is spinning the line that the Tory Government lost loads of by-elections between 1987 and 1992 but regained the seats in 1992 and won the general election. Does anyone believe this parallel??

12.25pm Andrew Sparrow reports the Tories as predicting a majority of "more like 4,000, perhaps between 1,000 and 2,000."

12.15pm Sky reporting that the Conservatives will win with a majority of 4,000-5,000.

Noon Sky's Jon Craig reports that Labour are saying that the Tory vote has increased to about 38% of the vote, which by my reckoning would be about 13,300 votes, equating - if Andrew Sparrow's gossip was also right - to a Tory majority of 6,500. I suspect that is overegging it.

11.55am The BBC's Carole Walker says a result is not now expected for another half an hour.

11.50am The BBC's Nick Robinson gives his guide to unpicking the likely spin on the result from the parties; Andrew Sparrow reports an overheard conversation suggesting Labour has come second with 19.5% of the vote - which would amount to about 6,800 votes based on my earlier back-of-a-cigarette-packet arithmetic.

11.45am Channel Four News's Gary Gibbon blogs that he has noticed a vicar (denomination unknown) at the count wearing a BNP rosette.

11.40am The Times reports that David Cameron "is preparing to travel to Norfolk later today, in the event that, as expected, Norwich North falls to the control of the Conservatives".

11.30am Daniel Finkelstein is not convinced the Conservatives will win by as tight a margin as they are suggesting: "If the Tory vote is up (as Labour say) and Labour has done sufficiently badly that it is contesting second place with the Libs while the UKIP and Green vote is hefty, it surely follows that the Tories must have a decent majority."

11.25am Henry Macrory tweets that the result will be "at midday or just before".

11.20am A source at the count informs me that UKIP and the Greens are doing "pretty well" and that it is still impossible at this stage to establish how those parties, Labour and the Lib Dems will all be placed.

11.15am Chloe Smith has arrived at the count.

Picture 10 11.05am Labour MP and government whip Bob Blizzard confirms to Sky that the Labour candidate is not at the count and that he is at home recovering from suspected swine flu. He refuses to concede defeat, saying he never does so until the result come out, but that whilst the Labour vote is down, the Conservative vote is "not up that much in circumstances that should favour them".

10.55am A bit of back-of-a-cigarette-packet arithmetic: with turnout at 45.88% and assuming the electorate is about the same as 2005 (ie around 77,000), a little over 35,000 votes will have been cast.

10.45am As the counters take a tea break (!) Sky's Miranda Richardson has turned her attention to Theresa May's footwear...

10.25am Andrew Sparrow confirms that turnout is 45.88% - which down from 61.1% in 2005.

10.20am The Times's Daniel Finkelstein is also live blogging and reckons Labour will "probably just hold on" to second place based on an unscientific cut.

10.15am The Guardian's Andrew Sparrow has blogged that the Greens are "reconciled to fourth place".

Picture 9 10.05am Theresa May refuses to be drawn on the result when interviewed on Sky, saying that she never makes predictions, preferring instead just to say that she hopes she'll be joined on the Tory benches by Chloe Smith, who would be the youngest ever female Conservative MP.

10am Sky News have just reported that Labour have conceded defeat and that the party fears it might even be pushed into third place (as predicted via a Tweet yesterday by Andrew Hawkins of ComRes).

9.45am I am following the Norwich North count from my home in Kew, but am keeping an eye on the BBC News Channel, Sky News and a variety of blogs and Twitter feeds - as well as keeping in phone contact with Norwich - and will share whatever intelligence reaches me.

The result could be announced as early as 11.30am, but it might slip back to nearer lunchtime.

The consenus is that the Conservatives have won, although with turnout said to be 45% and the fringe parties reportedly doing well, the majority will not be of Crewe and Nantwich proportions. ConHome readers' average prediction was 3,301, and Political Betting readers were in the same ball park.

Jonathan Isaby


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