...but Conservatives consolidate gains in the Home Counties constituencies

VOTERS in the Home Counties yesterday flocked to the polls in droves in support of David Cameron’s Tories, with the party swinging the majority of the key marginal seats surrounding London.

Previous Labour constituencies such as Dartford, Reading West, Harlow, Stevenage, Basildon, Crawley and Watford all fell to the Conservatives, thanks to weighty swings in favour of the party.

Candidate Stephen Metcalfe swung the Basildon South and Thurrock East seat by 7.5 per cent towards the Tories, giving him 43.9 per cent of the vote ahead of just 31 per cent for Gordon Brown’s former private secretary Angela Smith, who has held the seat for the past 12 years.

Reading West and Dartford both saw double-digit swings in favour of the Conservatives, with Alok Sharma gaining 43.1 per cent of the vote in the former and Gareth Johnson 48.8 per cent in the latter.

Harlow, the bellwether Essex constituency formerly held by defence minister Bill Rammell, fell to the Tories’ Robert Halfon with 44.9 per cent of the voters’ support. The seat, was subject to three recounts back in 2005, with Rammell edging back in with a tiny 97 majority.

The Conservatives also managed a key hold in Bromley and Chislehurst, where Bob Neill romped home against his Liberal rival Sam Webber with well over half of the vote.