Key London central seats go to Labour...

A STRING of failures in crucial central London target seats left the Conservative party reeling as the election results came in earlier today.

Disappointing results in a trio of David Cameron’s most coveted target seats – Westminster North, Hammersmith and Tooting – knocked the party off course early on in its quest for an overall majority.

The Tory leader’s young protégé Joanne Cash recorded just 38.5 per cent of the vote in Westminster North despite party hopes of a significant swing in her favour, losing out to incumbent Karen Buck with 43.9 per cent.

Much-trumpeted black youth worker Shaun Bailey also failed to light a spark under the Hammersmith constituency, as he was pipped to the post by Labour’s Andy Slaughter by 20,810 votes to 17,261.

Tooting – where Labour’s Sadiq Khan took 43.5 per cent of the vote against Tory Mark Clarke’s 38.5 per cent – also proved an early setback for the Conservatives despite the party’s candidate Jane Ellison taking nearby Battersea, London’s most marginal seat, with a convincing 6.5 per cent swing.

Those three seats were followed in quick succession by more important holds for Labour, including in Dulwich and West Norwood, where Labour minister Tessa Jowell remains firmly ensconced after recording a slight swing in her favour.

Culture and tourism minister Margaret Hodge won a resounding 54.3 per cent majority against Tory Simon Marcus and the BNP’s Nick Griffin in Barking, while Labour’s Glenda Jackson held on by the skin of her teeth in Hampstead and Kilburn after a vote recount, with a majority of just 42 votes.

Central London voting also proved a sore disappointment for the Liberal Democrats, particularly in the northern constituencies of Islington.

Islington South and Finsbury, the most marginal Lib-Lab constituency in England, had been the subject of high expectations from Liberal leader Nick Clegg, but those hopes were dashed as incumbent Emily Thornberry held on to her seat and increased her majority for Labour. Long-standing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn was also re-elected in Islington North with 54.5 per cent of the vote.