Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Worst Turnout in More Than a Decade Takes Shine off Labour Poll Victory

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Worst Turnout in More Than a Decade Takes Shine off Labour Poll Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Woodhouse Political Reporter

VOTERS stayed at home in "remarkable" numbers as Labour won the Feltham and Heston by-election.

Election experts were shocked today at the "dreadful" turnout, which saw fewer than one in three people bother to cast their ballot.

A low poll was expected, with Christmas approaching, but the 28.7 per cent figure was the worst in a by-election for 11 years -- when Tony Blair was still in his first term as Prime Minister.

Labour's Seema Malhotra won the west London seat today, boosting her party's majority with a performance strong enough that Ed Miliband could breathe a sigh of relief amid questions about his leadership.

Her 6,203 margin over Tory Mark Bowen was an 8.6 per cent swing to Labour -- no disaster for David Cameron at a time of economic gloom. Liberal Democrat Roger Crouch narrowly avoided being beaten into third place by Ukip's Andrew Charalambous, saving Nick Clegg embarrassment. The contest was sparked by the death of Alan Keen last month.

Ms Malhotra called the result a "wakeup call" for Mr Cameron, while Labour's mayoral hopeful Ken Livingstone said it raised "serious questions" about Boris Johnson's position as the race for City Hall takes shape. …

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