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Dream result for Hyndburn Labour candidate
OVERJOYED Graham Jones reflected on his election triumph and said: “Last week I was clocking on as a factory worker and I will soon be heading to Westminster. It’s a dream.”
Mr Jones pledged to dedicate himself to fighting for local Hyndburn issues on the national stage.
The Labour candidate won a majority of more than 3,000 votes, bucking the national trend of his party.
The 44-year-old printer, who succeeds Greg Pope as MP after the Labour stalwart stepped down following four terms as Hyndburn MP, said his election would not change him.
He said the campaign had left him ‘shattered’ but he was looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Mr Jones said he would to build on the ‘great work’ carried out in the area by his two predecessors, Mr Pope and Tory Ken Hargreaves.
He beat Conservative candidate Karen Buckley into second place, but saw the Labour majority drop by around 2,600.
The result was due to be declared in Mr Jones’s favour at 3am but a recount delaying the verdict by more than an hour. The discrepancy came after a ballot box was counted in to the hall twice by mistake.
Dad-of-two Mr Jones, who celebrated his victory with partner Kimberley Whitehead and 11-month-old daughter Alana, at the count in Hyndburn Sports Centre, said: “It will be an honour and a privilege to serve as Hyndburn’s MP.”
Mr Jones is now expected to step down from his position as Labour group leader on Hyndburn Council and also from his role as a county councillor in the wake of his triumph last night.
He said he planned to concentrate on his new role as MP.
A dejected Mrs Buckley was only named as Conservative candidate six weeks ago and the West Lancashire woman was controversially selected ahead of local candidates.
A clearly disappointed Mrs Buckley refused to speak after the result was announced and walked out of the sports hall.
Speaking yesterday, Mrs Buckley said: “Many congratulations to Graham Jones for his win and I wish him well.
“I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the 14,441 residents for voting for me and the Conservative Party at the General Election.
“Being the Conservative Party candidate for Hyndburn and Haslingden was indeed an honour and privilege for me and I am grateful for your vote.”
In third place the Lib Dems saw their vote drop by 500 from 2005 and the BNP saw a fall in their vote by 300 to finish fourth.
Mr Jones said: “I feel exhausted. I have campaigned for six months, through the snow, cold weather and rain. It is a big victory, against the backdrop of a poor night for the Labour party.
“For me this election was not about national politics and for the people of this borough to support me and put their faith in me is overwhelming.
“I can’t thank the people of Hyndburn enough and I intend to repay them and work hard to be the best MP that I can.
“I know that the hard work starts now and I am looking forward to it.”
The Rev Kevin Logan, standing for the Christian People’s Alliance, said: “I feel that my job was done.
“I showed that God is relevant in modern society. I am delighted that nearly 800 people agreed with me but I would have liked a lot more to have done!
“Overall it was not a bad result for the borough.”
FEELINGS run high between the two main parties in Hyndburn.
Traditionally Lib Dems hardly get a look in and this time they struggled to get above 10 per cent of the vote.
With a Tory council and Greg Pope stepping down as MP Labour could easily have been swept aside by a countrywide tide.
But council Labour group leader Graham Jones bucked the national trend albeit with a majority down by 2,600 on what his predecessor achieved in 2005.