Election '97: Lib-Dem dreams come true as target seats fall

Joy was mixed with sadness for the Liberal Democrats last night as they won hitherto undreamed of seats, but saw the defeat of their health spokesman, Simon Hughes.

While they failed to secure any significant increase on the 18 per cent of the vote received in 1993, the collapse in the Tory vote led to predictions of more than 60 MPs in the new parliament.

Paddy Ashdown held on to his own seat at Yeovil with a 3.1 per cent swing.

Accepting victory, he said: "I believe we will have a change of government with a substantial majority which will deliver a new era in our politics. More power will be in the hands of the voters and less in the hands of the Establishment. We shall use the votes we have been given tonight to make sure that in the next Parliament we continue to fight for the things we have fought for in this campaign."

The Lib-Dems made a spectacular gain at Torbay, unseating Rupert Allason after a recount. They also gained Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine. Among other wins for the party was Northavon, which was number 50 on its list of target seats.

As the 12th Liberal Democrat seat was declared, Mr Ashdown, said: "Out of all the parties we have gained the most out of this election. Labour have made an agreement with us for constitutional change. Mr Blair is an honourable man and I believe he will keep his promise in the next Parliament."

The party's first win of the night was Southport, where Ronnie Fearn unseated the Tory MP Matthew Banks. The news was greeted with huge cheers at the Liberal Democrats' temporary headquarters in a London pizza restaurant.

Southport was the party's 11th most winnable seat and required a swing of 2.8 per cent to win. Victory will be particularly sweet for Mr Fearn, who was MP for Southport from 1987 until 1992, having whittled away a Tory majority of 27,000 over four general elections.

One of the most remarkable results of the night for the party was its win in Northavon. Sir John Cope, the Tory MP for the seat, had represented the area since 1974.

The new MP for Northavon is Professor Steven Webb, a professional economist specialising in tax and the benefits system, who used to work for the highly-respected Institute of Fiscal Studies and had not stood for Parliament before.

The party also took Weston-super-Mare, turning a 5,400 Tory majority into a Liberal Democrat majority of 1,400.

But the Labour landslide led to the loss of Liz Lynne and Chris Davies in Rochdale and Oldham and Saddleworth respectively. Later, its candidate defeated Lady Olga Maitland in Sutton and Cheam. Labour overturned Mr Hughes's 7,000 majority in Southwark North and Bermondsey.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk