ELECTION: Morden holds on in Newport East for Labour

South Wales Argus: Jess Morden celebrates victory in Newport East with her partner Sion Ffrancon Jess Morden celebrates victory in Newport East with her partner Sion Ffrancon

A CONCERTED campaign by the Liberal Democrats in Newport East failed to oust Jessica Morden, who held the seat for Labour.

But Ms Morden's majority of 6,838 from 2005 was slashed to just 1,650 and she was relieved to have won after what she acknowledged was "a very hard fought campaign."

The Liberal Democrats have enjoyed considerable success on this side of the Usk at city council level, and had high hopes of bloodying Labour's nose at a General Election.

But it was not to be, and Ms Morden is looking forward to a second spell in a role she feels "hugely privileged" to have the opportunity to carry out again.

"The Liberal Democrats put a lot of resources into Newport East, but we had a very home-grown group of supporters who have worked tirelessly to bring about this result," she said.

"It has been very hard work, we have been pushed all the way. But this constituency has been fought for in a very comradely manner, with a lot of goodwill between candidates."

As in Newport West, Newport East is proving a constituency of diminishing returns for Labour.

Even amid the controversy of former Tory minister Alan Howarth's standing for Labour following his mid-1990s defection, the seat was won in 1997 with a majority of almost 13,500. This was reduced to 10,000 in 2001.

On both occasions the Conservatives were the distant runners-up. In 2005, the Liberal Democrats broke through into second place, but despite their best efforts Ed Townsend, also the party's candidate four years ago, again had to settle for second place.

He hailed the efforts of party activists for making such a close-run thing of the election, and spoke of the wider national picture.

Referring to the real possibility of a coalition government, he said Liberal Democrats would make some attempt to help form a government.

"As is the case with the pact with the Conservatives in Newport, it will be done not on the principle of who has what, but on policies,' he said.

Newport East results

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