The Liberal Democrats today snatched the previously true-blue stronghold of Romsey from the Conservatives in the single Parliamentary by-election election result of the night.
Sandra Gidley took the Hampshire constituency with a majority of 3,311, scoring slightly more than half of the vote. She overturned a 1997 Conservative majority of 8,585 - won by Michael Colvin, who died in a fire at his home earlier this year.
Labour's Andrew Howard trailed home with just 1,451 votes, losing his deposit.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, said the result overshadowed the Tories' successes in the local elections - shattering Conservative leader William Hague's leadership and election strategy.
The losing Conservative, Tim Palmer, said: "With a turnout of 55 per cent, the Conservative vote has held up and the Labour vote has collapsed completely."
He said the seat was only on loan: "You have this seat for a matter of months. It is a Conservative seat and to the Conservative Party it will return."
Ms Gidley said Mr Hague had misjudged the people of Britain. They had also told Tony Blair that he had promised much and must now deliver.
Lib Dem gain from Con
Ms Sandra Gidley (LD) 19,571 (50.56%) Timothy Palmer (C) 16,260 (42.01%) Andrew Howard (Lab) 1,451 (3.75%) Garry Rankin-Moore (UK Ind) 901 (2.33%) Derrick Large (LCA) 417 (1.08%) Thomas Lamont (Ind) 109 (0.28%) LD maj 3,311 (8.55%)
Swing 12.56% Con to Lib Dem
Electorate 69,858; Turnout 38,709; (55.41%)Reuse content