Conservative Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer re-elected
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Finchley and Golders Green’s MP Mike Freer kept a firm hold on the seat he has held for five years this morning to defy pollsters who predicted a Labour swing.
It has been too close to call throughout the fierce battle for the constituency, but Mr Freer managed to retain his seat, beating his Labour rival Sarah Sackman into second place with a majority of 5,662 and more than half of all votes.
Mr Freer took hold of Margaret Thatcher’s former seat in 2005 from Labour MP, the late Dr Rudi Vis, winning a comfortable majority of more than 5,000 votes.
But pollsters, including Lord Ashcroft, had tipped Ms Sackman to take back the seat for Labour with a slim majority following a surge of support for the 30-year-old.
Tonight she won 20,173 votes and a 39.6 share, more than 5,000 more than Labour candidate Alison Moore’s 15,879 votes - a 33.7 share - at the last election.
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But it was not enough to beat Mr Freer’s 25,835 votes - a vote share of 50.8 per cent - an increase from his 21,688 votes last time - a share of 46 per cent.
More than 70 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the marginal seat, a rise of about 10 per cent since 2010.
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The constituency was Labour’s 89th target seat, but a groundwell of support for Ms Sackman had led to pollsters putting Labour points ahead before the election.
But it was not enough to quash Mr Freer’s comfortable 5,809 majority.
Indeed, to the surprise of many, the result was far less tight than had been expected, with Mr Freer holding a majority of 5,662 - a decrease of only 142 votes.
In another twist, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) rocketed to third place behind Labour after candidate Richard King received 1,732 votes, or 3.4 per cent - a staggering increase of 915 votes since 2010.
They came above fourth-placed Liberal Democrat candidate Jonathan Davies, who received 1,662 votes, or 3.3 per cent - an devastating 6,374 votes fewer than in 2010.
The loss of votes for the Liberal Democrats reflects the abysmal performance of the party nationwide.
Fifth-placed Adele Ward increased the Green Party’s share of the vote from 1.6 per cent in 2010 to 2.7 per cent this time - an increase of 630 votes, from 737 in 2010 to 1,357 today.
Speaking to the Ham&High, Mr Freer said he owed his thanks to the people of Finchley and Golders Green for re-electing him to the seat.
He said: “I feel elated, knackered - it’s been a gruelling campaign.
“It’s emotionally draining, it’s physically draining, as for all the candidates.
“I’m obviously delighted. The Labour Party threw the proverbial kitchen sink at this seat, and for my majority to hold firm is very pleasing.”
Ms Sackman said she was “obviously disappointed” about both the result in Finchley and Golders Green and nationally.
But she added: “We can take great heart, as I said in my speech, from the fact that something has changed in Finchley and Golders Green.
“We’ve seen the Labour vote go up by that amount, so something significant has happened.
“It wasn’t as if people were disapointed with what Labour was offering, 5,000 more poeple voted for Labour than they did last time so clearly we were doing something right and that was based on good, community politics about the issues that people care about: defending the NHS, defending the local social services and our public libraries.”
Conservatives - 25,835 (50.8 per cent)
Labour - 20,173 (39.6 per cent)
Ukip - 1,732 (3.4 per cent)
Liberal Democrats - 1,662 (3.3 per cent)
Green Party - 1,357 (2.7 per cent)