Andrea Sandor looks at those who won the day by as little as 105 votes
Thanks to the election, we have five new Tory MPs in Greater Manchester. James Grundy had the most decisive victory in Leigh, where he beat MP Jo Platt by 1,965 votes. He made headlines because not only did Labour’s vote share decrease by 15 points, Leigh fell to the Conservatives for the first time ever since the constituency was created in 1885. It’s been Labour since 1922.
The other four Tory wins, however, are more tenuous with around 100-700 votes standing between the Tory and Labour candidates in Bury North, Bury South, Heywood and Middleton, and Bolton North East. James Daly won Bury North by 105 votes.
It’s hard not to feel we’ve lost some diversity this time around
Across all five constituencies, no candidate won an outright majority, with the Conservatives taking 43-46% vote share. It’s true that in some constituencies the Lib Dem and Green votes would’ve produced a Labour win had they been transferred. However, in other instances adding the Brexit Party votes to the Conservatives would’ve still seen the Tories on top.
The moral of the story is the nation remains divided. Nationally, the Tories won a 43.6% vote share, which translates into a “landslide” victory because of the first past the post system. No doubt, calls for reforming the voting system will continue after this election.
At the same time, it’s also clear that the Labour party needs to have a good hard look at itself. The battle for the party’s soul is already unfolding, with commentators across the country arguing about whether the Tory victory is a result of dislike for Corbyn the person, Corbyn’s policies, or the demand to ‘get Brexit done’.
While Labour battles it out amongst themselves, it’s perhaps the irony of our times that the party that unleashed neoliberalism is now positioning itself as the party to rein it in. Despite austerity being a Tory policy, Boris Johnson will be the 'hero who ended it'.
As John Gray wrote so presciently in late October for the New Statesman: 'Labour’s economic programme - the only part of the Corbyn project that was ever popular - has been superseded by Johnson’s strategic break with austerity.'
The Conservatives are reinventing themselves in precisely the way John Gray suggested they would have to in 1994. “I suggested that if Conservative thinking was to have a future it would have to renew itself in a post-liberal form - one that renounced hyperbolic market individualism while securing personal freedom and social cohesion under the aegis of a strong state.”
Boris Johnson is calling for a period of ‘healing’ and calling 2020 a year of ‘hope’, adopting what was until now Labour’s mantra. Gray concludes his article with 'The winner will be the party that can act resolutely and secure a period of peace.'
The Tories have acted resolutely, but it’s over to Johnson to secure this 'period of peace.'
Here in Greater Manchester, the five new Tory winners appear at first glance at least to be surprisingly similar. They’re all men in their thirties and forties; one is a solicitor, another an insurance broker, another a diplomat. The losers include three woman and individuals with experience working in the NHS, higher education, and starting up a social enterprise. It’s hard not to feel we’ve lost some diversity this time around.
The slender margins of their victories mean our new MPs will need to be sensitive to all their new constituents. It’s also worth noting turn-out didn’t pass 70% in any of the five constituencies, meaning there’s around a third who didn’t vote at all and whose political views remain unknown. Our new MPs will need to listen to all sides, so be sure to let them know what you think about the issues important to you.
- Vote share: 46.2%, up 1.8 points (vs Labour 46%, down 7.6 points)
- Won by: 105 votes
- Turnout: 68.1%, down 2.8 points
- History: Constituency was created in 1983. Of those 36 years, it’s been Labour for five and Conservative the rest (Conservative 1983, Labour 1997, Conservative 2010, Labour 2017, Conservative 2019.)
- Winner: James Daly is in his mid-forties and a criminal defence solicitor. He’s Conservative leader of Bury council, a councillor in the North Manor ward, and has stood for Parliament twice before in Bolton seats. He beat James Firth who held the seat for just two years. Firth was CEO and Founder of All Together, a social enterprise providing careers education and guidance services to young people to help get them into work.
- Vote share: 43.8%, up 2.3 points (vs 43% Labour, down 10.2 points)
- Won by: 402 votes
- Turnout: 66.9%, down 2.3 points
- History: The constituency was created in 1983. It was Conservative between then and 1997, and has been Labour for the past 22 years.
- Winner: Christopher Wakefield is a 34-year-old insurance broker and Tory group leader at Pendle Council. He told the Financial Times he “trusts” Boris Johnson and his favourite quote is from Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi: “You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view.” He won against Lucy Burke, who’s worked in higher education all her life and is co-chair of Learning Disability England.
- Vote share: 45.3%, up 9.4 points (vs Labour 41.1%, down 15.1)
- Won by: 1,965
- Turnout: 60.7%, down 0.8 points
- History: Leigh was created in 1885 and has been Labour since 1922. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham held the seat for seven years from 2019-2017.
- Winner: James Grundy is 40 and has represented Lowton East for 11 years. After winning Grundy said: "I came here tonight expecting to lose with dignity, rather than head down to London tomorrow. I suppose I'm going to have to think on my feet about what I'm going to do." Grundy won the seat from Jo Platt, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, responsible for cybersecurity.
Heywood and Middleton
- Vote share: 43.1%, up 5 points (vs 41.7%, down 11.6 points)
- Won by: 663 votes
- Turnout: 59.2% down 3.2 points
- History: Labour since it was created in 1983
- Winner: Originally from the Ribble Valley, Christopher Clarkson has been a Conservative councillor for Worsley on Salford City Council since 2011. He’s describes himself as a 'liberal Tory, Dundee law grad, occasional marathon runner' on Twitter. After winning, he said: “I’m looking forward to going to London and getting Brexit done.” He won against Liz McInnes, who’s been the MP since 2014 and was previously a biochemist in the NHS.
Bolton North East
- Vote share: 45.4%, up 3.2 points (vs Labour 44.5%, down 6.1 points)
- Won by: 378 votes
- Turnout: 64.5%, down 2.7 points
- History: Created in 1983. The Lib Dems won the seat from the Tories in 1996, and Labour took it the following year
- Winner: Mark Logan is a former diplomat. He was Chief Spokesman at the Foreign Office’s British Consulate in Shanghai and says: “I was front and centre to business deals that helped grow two-way trade to over £55 billion between our two countries.” He’s originally from Northern Ireland and stood as a parliamentary candidate there in 2017 but was unsuccessful. He unseated 73-year-old Sir David Crausby, who was a councillor from 1979-1992, and elected as an MP in 1997. He worked as a lathe turner and works convenor at Amalgamated Engineering Union.