Mixed verdict on expenses-hit candidates

  • @robhastings

Jacqui Smith was close to tears but Hazel Blears wore a quiet smile of relief. In the contrasting fates of these former ministers, the electorate's final judgement on the expenses scandal proved every bit as unpredictable as the campaign.

Redditch took the chance to punish the former Home Secretary, Ms Smith, with relish. Her "unreserved" apology after claiming for her husband's pay-per-view porn – and benefiting by £116,000 through classifying her main home as a second property – held little sway.

Yet Ms Blears, pictured, was spared by the people of Salford despite searing anger last year at her capital gains tax avoidance. The former Secretary for Communities and Local Government was helped by disenchanted Labour supporters switching to the Liberal Democrats – who registered a 9.43 per cent swing – instead of the Conservatives.

Yvette Cooper was also let off the hook despite her "flipping" of homes. Another former minister Tony McNulty was not so lucky.

Labour saw off Esther Rantzen to keep Margaret Moran's old seat of Luton South. Meanwhile, the Tories held the old seats of Douglas Hogg, who claimed for moat-cleaning, and Sir Peter Viggers of duck-island fame.