Tory clean sweep in Wirral by-elections
CONSERVATIVES scored a clean sweep in by-elections in Wirral – including the shock defeat of actress Pauline Daniels.
Labour had been widely expected to win in the Leasowe and Moreton East by-election where Ms Daniels was their candidate – a seat they had won last May.
The election had been called after the death of former Labour cabinet member Anne McArdle late last year, along with the Heswall by-election following the death of Cllr Peter Johnson.
Conservative Ian Lewis had been defeated in the 2012 election but had remained working on community projects, and he suggested that this and a strong Tory campaign helped him regain the seat by 265 votes, on a turnout of 30.5%.
Afterwards he admitted to being “overwhelmed” by the result and thanked the voters who had come out in “terrible weather”. He said: “From now the work begins again as councillor for Leasowe and Moreton East.”
However, Ms Daniels said she was not surprised at the loss and pledged to return to fight the seat at the next election in May 2014.
However, Leasowe Labour councillor Ron Abbey angrily accused Lewis of “masquerading as not being a Conservative” – a charge the newly elected councillor fiercely denied – and said they would challenge him “every day” over the Coalition Government policies.
Results: Ian Lewis (Con) with 1,620 votes, Pauline Daniels (Lab) with 1,355, Daniel Clein (Lib Dem) 28, Mark Halligan (Trade Unionist and Socialist Against the Cuts) 31, Jim McGinley (Green) 28, Susan Whitham (UKIP) 148.
In Heswall Conservative Kathryn Hodson won with 1,254 votes, 794 more than UKIP's David Scott who with 460 votes pushed Labour's Mike Holliday into third place with 289. Barbara Burton (Green) had 110 votes and Trade Unionist and Socialist Against the Cuts party's Greg North 19 votes on a turnout of 19.7%.
Labour leader Phil Davies congratulated Ian Lewis on his win but admitted it was a “disappointing night” for his party and they had to learn from the result.
He said: “We need to get the message across to people that Labour is having to make difficult decisions about budget cuts, and these arise with the Coalition Government.”