Iain Duncan Smith clings on in Chingford as Labour suffers nationally

The candidates for Chingford and Woodford Green await the election result on stage at Walthamstow Assembly Hall (credit Judith Burnett)
The candidates for Chingford and Woodford Green await the election result on stage at Walthamstow Assembly Hall (credit Judith Burnett)

Judith Burnett reports from last night’s election count at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, where Labour fell short in one of its key target seats

Chingford and Woodford Green remains in Tory hands after Iain Duncan Smith hung on with a small 1,062-vote majority.

In a ferocious battle, Labour Party candidate Faiza Shaheen pushed Labour’s vote to 22,149, up from 20,638 in 2017 when the seat was contested by previous candidate Bilal Mahmood.

Iain, a former Tory Party leader who has represented the area since 1992, also saw his vote rise to 23,481, up from 23,076 in 2017, but still saw his majority reduced following a huge effort by Labour to oust him.

In his acceptance speech Iain said that not only was he delighted to have been returned but that “I am incredibly pleased that I shall be doing so in a Conservative majority government”.

Faiza said of her defeat: “We worked really hard; we just didn’t get there this time. Me and all the other ‘trouble makers’ will be fighting from tomorrow. This is the start of the rebellion.”

Lib Dem candidate Geoff Seeff saw his vote rise to 2,744, up from the 2,043 in 2017.

Chingford and Woodford Green saw the highest turnout of all three Waltham Forest constituencies, at 74.1%. There were no other challengers standing there as both the Green Party and Brexit Party candidates stepped aside.

Stella Creasy was accompanied at the election count by two-week-old baby daughter Hettie
Stella Creasy was accompanied at the election count by two-week-old baby daughter Hettie (credit Judith Burnett)

In Walthamstow, Stella Creasy retained her seat for the Labour and Co-operative Party with a 76.1% vote share, a fall of 4% compared to 2017. Stella told the Echo: “The values which drove me here and continue to drive me in the Labour movement endure. I don’t underestimate ten years of austerity and Brexit.”

Speaking about the national picture of a heavy defeat for Labour, Stella said: “I will work harder than ever before to rebuild trust. I pledge that I will do that for every person: We will fight back.”

Stella was accompanied at the election count by her two-week-old baby Hettie, who was the first to congratulate her mother with a loud cry on stage. In her acceptance speech, Stella referenced the ugly campaign fought against her by the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA), which targeted her with personal attacks based on its anti-abortion policy.

Stella said: “Walthamstow is not Gilead. Those candidates who spread lies and misinformation are not welcome in Walthamstow.”

Shortly before the election, advertising company Clear Channel Direct apologised for running a ‘Stop Stella’ anti-abortion campaign in Walthamstow, which was referred to the Metropolitan Police. Deborah Longe, the CPA candidate, won just 254 votes and lost her deposit. She did not appear on stage when the result was announced.

In second place in Walthamstow was Conservative candidate Shade Adoh, with 5,922 votes, a fall of 1.8% compared with 2017. Other candidates were Meera Chadha, from the Liberal Democrats, who saw a 5.9% increase in votes to 2,874, alongside Green candidate Andrew Johns who won 1,733 votes and the Brexit Party’s Paul Campbell, who secured 768 votes.

In Leyton and Wanstead, Labour’s John Cryer retained his seat with a lower total of 28,836 votes, which was still a comfortable majority of 20,808 over Conservative runner-up Noshaba Khiljee, who claimed 8,028 votes.

John said: “Labour has been divided by Brexit. It’s a devasting picture nationally, our worse election since 1935. The Labour Party is the only party with both Leavers and Remainers. But there were other problems too.”

Leyton and Wanstead was notable for being contested the youngest election candidate in the UK. Henry Scott, who celebrated his 18th birthday in November, stood as an independent and won 427 votes. He explained his reason to stand: “I just heard all these promises but they were never kept. Why can’t we have a party of both good welfare and which supports business? I would take policies and ideas from northern Europe and implement them here.”

The other Leyton candidates were Liberal Democrat Ben Sims, who saw a rise in votes to 4,666, up from 2,961 in 2017, while Ashley Gunstock, the Green Party candidate, secured 1,085 votes and the Brexit Party’s Zulf Jannaty won 785 votes.

The count in Waltham Forest was overshadowed by an administrative error with some postal ballots, causing them to be sent out late and leading to several people being unable to vote – the Echo was contacted by one voter in Walthamstow who had been unable to vote because he had not received his ballot paper prior to starting hospital treatment.

A council spokesperson said: “We apologise for an administrative error that caused some postal votes for Thursday’s general election to be delivered late. This effected 1,470 postal votes due to be delivered by Friday 6th December. Of these, 1,364 were hand-delivered by Monday 9th December. A courier service delivered the remaining 106 and they have verified that all were delivered by Wednesday 11th December. 

“The total number of postal votes handled by Waltham Forest Council for the general election is 27,993. We have notified the Electoral Commission as is routine in these matters.”

For the full general election results:
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bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50672511