CONSERVATIVE candidate Jane Ellison last night took London’s most marginal seat, Battersea, with a swing of 6.5 per cent – putting the party close to the 7 per cent it would need to gain an overall majority across the country.
Ellison garnered 47.3 per cent of the vote – up from 39.9 per cent in 2005 – while Labour candidate Martin Linton dropped 5.6 per cent of the vote to end up with 35.1 per cent of the total. Support for the Liberal Democrats inched up marginally to 14.7 per cent, from 14.5 per cent in 2005.
Battersea has been a key battleground for the parties and was widely expected to be won by the Tories, who earmarked it as their ninth target seat. It has been in the hands of Labour since 1997, though the party held on in 2005 by the skin of its teeth with a majority over the Conservatives of just 0.8 per cent.
In the 2005 election, Conservative candidate Ellison stood in the seat of Pendle, reducing Labour’s majority to the smallest in Lancashire. She was selected to run for Battersea at an open primary meeting in September 2007.
Labour’s candidate, former Guardian and Daily Mail journalist Linton, has held the seat since 1997. He recently led a parliamentary campaign for a referendum on a new voting system next year.
Battersea is traditionally a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives, encompassing both middle-class and immigrant families and upwardly-mobile young professionals living in the popular Clapham Junction area.
The Liberal Democrats and combined other parties garnered just 17.6 per cent between them.
The LibDem candidate Layla Moran is half-Palestinian and grew up in Jamaica, Ethiopia and Belgium. The seat was also contested by Hugh Salmon, an independent campaigner under the Hugh Salmon for Battersea party, and Christopher MacDonald for UKIP.