Conservatives win general election in Ashfield for first time since 1970s

Ashfield and Eastwood voters have put their faith in a Conservative candidate to become their MP for the first time since the 1970s. 

Councillor Lee Anderson won the general election with more than 19,000 votes and almost 40 per cent of the vote – beating both Labour and the Ashfield Independents. 

Lee and supporters celebrate.

Lee and supporters celebrate.

It was a poor showing for Labour in the constituency, slumping into third place in a seat that it had held for decades and failing to connect with what is usually a very safe seat for the party. 

Across Nottinghamshire the Conservatives picked up every single seat outside of Nottingham city, while neighbouring seats such as Bolsover saw swings to the Conservatives that caused veteran MP Dennis Skinner lose his seat after 49 years.

Labour’s result saw the party lose dozens of seats nationally and slump to its worst election result since Clement Attlee in 1935, even falling short of the “suicide note” performance by Michael Foot in 1983 – and leading to the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. 

But for the Conservatives, it was the biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, picking up more than 360 seats and registering an almost 80-seat majority. 

Victor Lee Andersons acceptence speech.

Victor Lee Andersons acceptence speech.

The “delighted” Councillor Anderson said he will be “beating the drum” for Ashfield “every time” he is in parliament.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that I’m the first ever MP for this area that was born here, schooled here, raised here and rose my own family here.

“I’ve never actually lived more than two miles away than where I was born in King’s Mill Hospital. So it is a great pleasure to be elected as MP. 

“Ashfield is going to get a good deal now, I promise you that. I love this place, it’s been a home to me and my family for many, many years.

Voting boxes are brought into the hall for counting.

Voting boxes are brought into the hall for counting.

“It’s part of my DNA, and you better believe that when I go down to parliament I will be beating the drum for this place every time I’m there.”

Labour’s Natalie Fleet, who arrived at Kirkby’s Festival Hall in floods of tears, was “devastated” as her party came in third place, admitting that Labour’s “red wall has collapsed” in the East Midlands. 

“I’m devastated for what it means for Labour here and across the country. We’ve lost a damn good lot of MPs today, and for the party it is huge for what it means on our ability to make a change. 

“We knew this was going to happen, that it was going to be a tough race. We didn’t even just lose to the Conservatives, as it turned out we came third – this is a massive rejection of the Labour Party’s offer. 

Returning officer Ruth Dennis declares the result.

Returning officer Ruth Dennis declares the result.

“We need to look to ourselves and find out why. I believe in the difference Labour can make to future generations, but we didn’t get that message across successfully.

“I think it’s so much bigger than the leadership. We’ve been losing votes and seats since 2010, and actually since 1997. We need to look at what’s going wrong, it’s far bigger than just one person.

“It looks like we’re having a new leader now, and I would want a woman who can connect with areas like this, and properly represent the Labour values.

“People feel Corbyn didn’t represent them, and we need to work out why. We’ve got a period of reflection to work out what went wrong.”

Another candidate who fell short of the mark was Councillor Jason Zadrozny who, despite the usual two-party voting system managed to poll his Ashfield Independents into second place – receiving 24.6 per cent of the vote share. 

Coun Zadrony says he is happy with the result and the fact his Independent outfit managed to finish second overall.

Labours Natalie Fleet.

Labours Natalie Fleet.

He said: “I’ve known for a while that the Conservatives were going to win across the country, and that seems to have spilled into Ashfield.

“Where Lee and I can work together I know we will. Me and Lee have had our encounters in the past, but he has been a councillor here and knows the struggles we are under. 

“I’m just glad Labour aren’t here anymore. I’m happy that we received more votes than Labour because it shows people value what we have done. 

“Labour has always taken Ashfield for granted, and in the last few weeks they have been bussing people in.

“I’m not a Tory, I disagree with their more right-wing stuff, but as far as the leave side goes I’m very happy. And I’m happy that we came in second, it’s a very big achievement for us as an independent movement.”

Polling in fourth place was The Brexit Party under Martin Daubney MEP, who says the election was a “referendum on Corbynism” and that it was rejected. 

He added: “The whole point about tonight was getting a Brexit majority. I like Lee Anderson, we have become friends over the campaign trail. 

“When we are seeing results coming in it has been proven true that we are helping get the Tories over the line. Helping us get a Brexit majority is a victory. 

“It is country before party, and that is what’s happened tonight. We have seen a collapse of the so-called red wall, it’s a blood bath for Labour. 

“It has been an abject rejection of Jeremy Corbyn and his Marxist principles, people don’t want this 1970s socialism.”