Edgbaston stays Labour against odds

Labour held the key seat of Birmingham Edgbaston against all odds last night, despite losing several other constituencies across the Midlands.

The Conservatives' failure to win a constituency in which they required just a 2 per cent swing represented a significant blow to David Cameron's hopes of securing a majority. But the Tories scored a number of victories elsewhere with swings of 9.5 per cent in Tamworth and 12 per cent in Leicestershire North West.

But it was Gisela Stuart's win – in a seat 39th on the Tories' target list – that was the biggest drama of the night. Her majority had slipped to 2,349 in 2005, a margin further reduced by subsequent boundary changes to just 1,555. Ms Stuart, a former junior minister for health, had campaigned under the motto "My values are Labour but I think for myself," and this professed independence from the ruling party's hierarchy paid off.

Turnout was reported to be high, with two polling stations locking their doors and turning voters away at 10pm. The constituency was one of Labour's proudest scalps of their 1997 triumph. Ms Stuart's victory 13 years ago broke a Conservative stranglehold on the constituency that dated back to 1898. The wider Midlands story was a less happy one for Labour, with Loughborough and Derbyshire South falling to the Tories.

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