Defeated Labour candidate says South Ribble Tory victory is ‘gut wrenching’

South Ribble Labour candidate Veronica Bennett at the count on Thursday night
South Ribble Labour candidate Veronica Bennett at the count on Thursday night
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Defeated Labour candidate Veronica Bennett says South Ribble’s Conservative victory is ‘gut wrenching’.

Miss Bennett, who has been campaigning since she was selected as Labour’s candidate in 2013, told the Guardian: “I have relished every moment of this genuinely grass roots campaign and I want to thank every resident who took the time to talk to me and to the local party volunteers.

“South Ribble Labour will continue to campaign on the ground as we revitalise our party nationally”

Veronica Bennett

“I am enormously proud of the local party and to the many people who aren’t members but who campaigned shoulder-to-shoulder with us: the teachers, nurses, students and local workers who wanted a brighter future for South Ribble.

“On Thursday I saw residents walk to the polling station for the first time in their lives, proudly waving their polling cards to the volunteers who had been on their doorsteps 10 minutes before.

“These were people who desperately needed a better plan. The result is gut wrenching.

“Why did we end up with the result we did?

“I think it’s because the Tories fear-peddled over the Scottish National Party.

“Their campaign was smoke and mirrors but the fallout we now face, from historically low state-spending and a fundamentally unbalanced and lopsided economy, is very real.”

She added: “South Ribble Labour will continue to campaign on the ground as we revitalise our party nationally.

“The task of rebalancing the economy so that it works for everybody will be even greater in 2020 than it was last Thursday.

“But we will be there, campaigning hard for a better future, every step of the way.”

Labour improved their result on 2010 by 526 votes, but it wasn’t enough to take the parliamentary seat.

UKIP came in third with 7,377 votes, but the Lib Dems lost 4,959 votes and candidate Sue McGuire failed to show at the count.

UKIP’s David Gallagher admitted he’d polled 2,500 more seats than he expected.

He said: “It’s wonderfully uplifting and I’m very proud of myself and all the people who have helped me.

“I’ve met a lot of great people and I’m glad to have been able to raise issues important to the elderly and disabled.

“I’ve done better than I expected to and I’ve come a clear third. This is something to build on now.”

There were 162 spoiled ballot papers and the turnout was 68.69 per cent, up from 67.9 per cent in 2010.

- Seee this week’s Leyland Guardian for the full coverage from the parliamentary and local elections in South Ribble, including more reactions, and the main winners and losers