Written by Benjamin Butcher, Deputy Editor-in-Chief
The Bath constituency has elected its first Conservative MP for twenty-three years as the Liberal Democrats are wiped out across the country.
Ben Howllett narrowly beat Liberal Democrat Steve Bradley in a tightly fought contest with the former claiming 17,833 votes (37.8%) and the latter gaining 14,000 (29.7%). The Labour candidate came third with 13.2% of the vote.
The seat has been highly contested by both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, with both parties fielding highly capable candidates.
Ben Howlett told University Radio Bath, “I’m elated and grateful, particuarly to the people in Bath who voted for me. It just shows how much people are wanting a change in Bath”.
“I think this time around it has been the Don Factor [outgoing Lib Dem MP for Bath], who has been a strong representative for the town for a long time. When he decided to stand down, people changed their mind.”
David Cutts, a University of Bath lecturer and specialist in British politics suggested that much of it was down to “‘tactical unwind’ with Labour and Green supporters voting for their party instead of voting tactically for the Lib Dems to keep the Conservatives out.”
Yesterday evening, bathimpact suggested that University of Bath students had stepped-up its support for the Liberal Democrats for said tactical reasons, with exit polls suggesting that 22% of students were voting Lib Dem. This was a considerable increase from 7% suggested in a bathimpact poll conducted in February.
Nationally, the Liberal Democrats have faced an annihilation with the SNP, Labour and Conservative parties taking seats all over the country. An early exit poll from the BBC/ITV/Sky suggested that the Liberal Democrats would finish the evening with as little as 10 seats.
The turnout for Bath was 77%.
Whilst the Bath MP has been announced, the Bath & North East Somerset Council election is due to be counted this afternoon, but if the Parliamentary seat is anything to go by, the Lib Dems will lose control of the Council as well.
Constituency vote count is as follows:
Ben Howlett (Cons) – 17,833 (37.8%)
Steve Bradley (Lib Dem) – 14,000 (29.7%)
Ollie Middleton (Labour) – 6,216 (13.2%)
Dominic Tristram (Green) – 5,634 (11.9%)
Julian Deverell (UKIP) – 2,922 (6.2%)
Lorraine Morgan-Brinkhurst (Independent) – 499 (1.1%)
Jenny Knight (English Democrats) – 63 (0.1%)