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Chris Galley

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Friday 7 May – a bittersweet victory

Up at 6 am, and to the terrible news that Wendy Morton had not succeeded in winning Tynemouth. She is a good friend and would have been a wonderful MP. She worked remorselessly in trying to win over the voters, but it simply didn’t work out. Other results confirm that we are heading to a hung parliament, confusion and disappointment all round.

Well Hexham has its own count to do, just about the last one in the UK to be declared. We assemble to act as count agents, checking up on the Returning Officer’s staff. There are two stages – verification and the count. Both of these have two sub stages. Firstly the postal ballots get verified (to ensure what went into the ballot box was what came out), then the polling station votes. From this I see we have won comfortably in Hexham. The second stage IMG_4659compconsists of assembling the ballots into piles for each candidates, then clipping each pile into groups of 50 ballots. It is easy to make a mistake, I spotted 16 errors at this stage, so I kept raising my arm to get the supervisor over. The clipped ballots then get put into a set of wooden troughs and it’s immediately obvious how well we are doing.

The result was declared just after 2 pm:

Guy Opperman –  Conservative, 18,795 votes, 43.2% + 0.8 percent points
Andrew Duffield – Liberal Democrat,  13,007, 29.9%  +4.2 
Antoine Tinnion - Labour, 8,253, 19.0% -11.4
Steve Ford – Independent, 1,974, 4.5% +4.5
Quentin Hawkins – British National Party, 1,205, 2.8% +2.8
Colin Moss – Independent, 249, 0.6% +0.6

So we increased our total vote, our majority and our share of the vote, which with a new candidate is as good as it gets. Guy makes a gracious acceptance speech, which is more than be said for some of his opponents. It was also an occasion to meet up with the other candidates, with whom we’ve generally had good relations.

After the declaration we head to Bev’s house for a celebration drink, but we’re so exhausted that it did not turn into a marathon session, thankfully! And further good news from Berwick, where Anne-Marie Trevelyan has given Sir Alan Beith a real fright, along with one of the biggest swings in the country.