Mike Freer: 'I knew Lord Ashcroft polls did not reflect reality in Finchley and Golders Green'
PUBLISHED: 16:10 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:23 08 May 2015
The polls had tipped Labour to wrestle back Finchley and Golders Green from the Conservatives - but newly re-elected Tory MP Mike Freer has said he knew the forecasts would not echo reality.
This morning, the 54-year-old kept a firm grip on the seat he has held for five years after receiving more than half of all votes cast in the battleground constituency.
Prestigious pollster Lord Ashcroft had put Labour rival Sarah Sackman two points ahead of the Tories, predicting she would take back Margaret Thatcher’s former seat for Labour with a slim majority.
But today, Mr Freer told the Ham&High that despite listening to the forecasts with a “sinking heart”, he knew the predictions did not equate with the groundswell of support he had experienced while campaigning the streets of Finchley and Golders Green.
He said: “When you read a poll saying that you’re two points behind, your heart sinks.
“But what does do is energise you to do more and it spurs you on.
“I thought of the first poll we saw that it doesn’t reflect what we’re hearing on the doorstep, so the key was always going to be, if my voter says I’m supporting you and sticking with you, to get them to a polling station.
“So the key as in identifying support and getting them to vote, and it worked.”
He said the key to his victory was his constituents, whom he thanked several times during his victory speech just after 5am this morning.
He told the Ham&High: “The most important thing was the constituents who on a regular basis kept saying that we like you, they think you’re a good MP, approachable, who don’t always agree with you, but that you’ve been a good MP.
“So I think combined with a party that was trusted particularly on the economy, coupled with my strong reputation as a hardworking local MP, that was a winning mixture.”
Mr Freer also paid tribute to his rival Ms Sackman after celebrating his victory, acknowledging that Labour threw “the proverbial kitchen sink” at the constituency.
So what will be the first thing Mr Freer does now he has been re-elected to represent Finchley and Golders Green?
“We have to sit and reflect,” he said. “What are people worried about? And what can we do about that?
“It will be a reflection over the weekend just to get some thought of what voters and the residents of Finchley and Golders Green have said. That’s what we need to be focusing on.”
Ms Sackman’s dogged campaigning was not enough to shift Mr Freer’s 5,000 strong majority after she received 20,173 votes and a 39.6 per cent share.
But the 30-year-old was celebrating a small victory last night in increasing the number of votes for Labour since 2010 by more than 5,000.
Admitting the result was disappointing both locally and nationally, 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 disappointed 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.”
And what next for Ms Sackman now?
“I’m going to take some time to reflect on what’s happened,” she said. “But certainly being part of something so special as we’ve achieved in Finchley and Golders Green certainly gives me the thirst in whatever capacity to fight for politics and social justice, which is something I believe passionately in.”