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General election 2019: Council leader says Tories have ‘had their chance’ in Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 December 2019

Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: JON KING

Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: JON KING

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The leader of the council has said he is pleased to keep two “formidable” MPs, claiming Tory rivals missed their chance.

Labour candidate Jon Cruddas won Dagenham and Rainham by 293 votes. Picture: Sophie CoxLabour candidate Jon Cruddas won Dagenham and Rainham by 293 votes. Picture: Sophie Cox

Barking and Dagenham's Cllr Darren Rodwell commented after Labour candidates Dame Margaret Hodge and Jon Cruddas were re-elected Members of Parliament for Barking and Dagenham and Rainham respectively.

Labour member, Cllr Rodwell, said: "I'm pleased I'm keeping two formidable MPs who have worked hard for the borough even though it was a disastrous night for Labour overall."

But he took aim at the Conservative candidate for Dagenham and Rainham, Damian White, when asked if that party's stronger showing in the constituency was a long term trend.

Mr Cruddas managed to hold on to his seat with 19,468 votes, just 293 clear of Mr White's 19,175.

Conservative candidate Damian White was narrowly beaten by Jon Cruddas in Dagenham and Rainham. Picture: Mark Sepple/Havering CouncilConservative candidate Damian White was narrowly beaten by Jon Cruddas in Dagenham and Rainham. Picture: Mark Sepple/Havering Council

Cllr Rodwell said: "This was the night the Conservatives had their chance. It's clear to me they've missed it."

Addressing Tory rivals, he added: "You came, you tried, you failed."

Mr White thanked supporters for helping him achieve the best result the party has polled in the constituency.

"We ran a fantastic campaign and got a brilliant result," he said.

Barking MP, Dame Margaret Hodge. Picture: Yui Mok/PA ImagesBarking MP, Dame Margaret Hodge. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Images

But he denied it was a one off, saying voters on the doorstep felt Labour no longer represented them.

However, Cllr Rodwell held up Barking and Dagenham Labour as a model for retaining working class voters' support.

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"We are the only Labour council movement that has beaten the BNP, Ukip, the Brexit Party and the Tories," he said.

Tamkeen Shaikh was the Conservative Party candidate for Barking. Picture: Tamkeen ShaikhTamkeen Shaikh was the Conservative Party candidate for Barking. Picture: Tamkeen Shaikh

On the Brexit Party candidate's effect on his vote, Mr White said if former Labour councillor Tom Bewick felt passionate about leaving the EU he would have stepped aside, leaving the seat open for him.

Mr Bewick said in response: "To blame other candidates for your loss in an election is not how democracy works. Mr White had the opportunity to put forward why his views on Brexit deserved more support than those of Jon Cruddas or myself.

"In the end, the voters of Dagenham and Rainham did their own 'cost-benefit analysis' of Damian White and decided Jon Cruddas's support for Boris Johnson's deal was enough to see him re-elected as the MP."

In Barking, Dame Margaret received 27,219 votes, 15,427 more than her closest rival, the Conservative Party candidate, Tamkeen Shaikh.

Thanking supporters, Dame Margaret put Labour's defeat nationally down to people not trusting Jeremy Corbyn and questioning his fitness to be prime minister.

She urged him to step down "sooner rather than later", calling for his replacement to be a female MP.

Dame Margaret said: "Most importantly, I want to see a Labour leader who can offer an effective plan that will take on Boris Johnson, re-connect with former Labour voters and tackle the insecurities we all face today."

In online comments, Mrs Shaikh welcomed Barking Conservatives' vote share increase of 4per cent on the last election.

Mrs Shaikh told the Post that Barking Conservatives are looking forward to the next local elections and getting seats on the council.

"For Conservatives in Barking there is only one way, which is upwards. We will make sure Barking turns blue.

"The Conservative Party has become the party of the working class."

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