Conservative Steve Barclay sees his majority increase as he is re-elected as MP for North East Cambs - while Labour sees a resurgence in the constituency - both at UKIP’s expense
- Credit: Archant
It was a tale of two sides at the Hudson Centre in Wisbech overnight (Thursday/Friday) where Conservative Steve Barclay was returned as MP for North East Cambs for the third time.
But even an increased majority for Mr Barclay, who has been the area’s MP since 2010, could not wipe the grim expressions from the local Tories’ faces as they watched the unfolding story nationally on a giant TV screen in the sports hall.
As Mr Barclay and his supporters grew increasingly frustrated with the results coming in from across Britain - which failed to see them win the massive majority they were hoping for - on the other side of the hall the local Labour members were bouyant and cheerfully clapping their party’s wins.
It was clear almost from the outset that Mr Barclay would be retaining his seat, but still it was a long wait for the final result to be announced at exactly 4am.
Mr Barclay had no cause to worry taking the lion’s share of the 53,365 votes cast in North East Cambs and he was indeed happy to be back in Parliament and said he was now anxious to carry on pushing for the essential infra-structure improvements this area needs.
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But while last time around it was UKIP snapping at his heels to take second place it was Labour who saw a real reversal in fortune with their candidate teacher Ken Rustidge almost doubling the number of votes compared to his performance back in 2015.
In 2015 he polled just 7,476 putting him firmly in third place behind the then UKIP candidate Andrew Charalambous who polled 11,650 to come in second place.
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This time around UKIP’s candidate Robin Talbot, who like English Democrat Andrew Goldspink was not there for the final declaration, saw his vote share plummet to just 2,174.
Mr Goldspink polled just 293 votes. Green candidate Ruth Johnson saw her party’s share also suffer a marginal fall from 1,816 in 2015 to 1,024 this time around.
But Mrs Johnson, in an appropriately green coloured dress - was in bouyant mood too sharing in Labour’s delight at the national results.
Mr Barclay has seen his majority go up by a very respectable 4,396 on the result two years ago receiving 34,340 crosses compared to 28,524 in 2015.
There were a few light-hearted moments during the evening one of these came during verification of questionable ballot papers, where one voter’s drawing of a cat was counted as vote for Mrs Johnson as it was clearly drawn in the box by her name.
In all there were 81 spoilt ballot papers and another of those also brought a smile to Mr Rustidge’s face (despite being not counted) as the elector had seen fit to spoil the paper by writing comments over the candidates’ names.
Next to Mr Rustidge’s name the joker had written “see me after class” - no doubt a reference to his job as a secondary school teacher.
“I have written that more times than I can count,” said Mr Rustidge, “Who knows it could even have been one of my old students who wrote that.”
Mr Rustidge also joked he was having a dilemma with his speech, saying the unfolding national picture had forced him to re-write it more than once during the evening.
All the candidates paid tribute, in their results speeches, to all those who had gone out and voted for them and also to the staff who had diligently counted the votes.
Liberal Democrat Darren Fower, who saw his party’s share of the vote go up by 69 on the 2015 election, said in his speech: “I would like to thank the excellent volunteers we have. It has been an interesting campaign.”
And added: “I think Mrs May has made a monstrous cock-up.”
Afterwards Mr Barclay said his party would have to listen and learn from the “clear message” given by the electorate.
He said: “I care very passionately about our community and I look forward to continuing to make the case in Parliament for the transport improvements we need.”
Mr Rustidge said: “I think the Labour party locally and nationally is in the ascendency. I think we have interesting weeks and moths ahead. People have voted for change, they have rejected a policy of cuts to schools and the NHS.”
Steve Barclay (Con) - 34,340
Darren Fower (Lib Dem) - 2,383
Stephen Goldspink (Eng Dem): 293
Ruth Johnson (Green): 1,024
Ken Rustidge (Lab): 13,070
Robin Talbot (UKIP): 2,177
Votes cast: 53,365
Spoilt papers: 81