Saturday, July 20, 2024

LibDems for Newbury, Labour for Reading West & Mid Berks

We’ve got two new MPs!  At around 6am this morning, Lee Dillon for the LibDems was returned as our new MP for Newbury, and Olivia Bailey, Labour, is now MP for the new constituency of Reading West & Mid Berkshire.

The contest for Newbury pitted Lee Dillon against the Conservative incumbent, Laura Farris, who many would agree has been an effective local MP.  There were seven candidates standing in total (representing Labour, the LibDems, Conservative plus the new Reform UK, Green Party and two independents) battling for the votes of just short of 72,000 electors.

In reality, it was a two-way LibDem/Conservative contest in which Lee Dillon triumphed by around 2,000 votes.  Reform UK’s 5,000 votes likely counted heavy in costing Laura Farris the seat.  Lee Dillon is a hugely experienced local community leader, with a long history of public service as an active member of the Newbury and West Berkshire community.  He has committed himself to transparency, progress and inclusivity to promote a bright future for all residents in our area.

Reading West & Mid Berkshire is a brand new constituency.  It also had seven candidates standing, again with the five national parties and two independents.  Its shape as a constituency is very different from Newbury and the battle was Labour’s Olivia Bailey  (a local working mum based in the constituency) versus Ross Mackinnon for the Conservatives, which the Labour candidate won by around 1,400 votes.  A slightly smaller area, with about 69,000 electors, neither constituency saw a great turn-out, albeit at around 68% is quite a good deal better than the national turn-out at around 60%.

All candidates were magnanimous in acknowledging their fellow candidates as acting fairly and with integrity throughout the campaign, and there is much to applaud in the calm act of millions of us placing a small mark on a piece of paper that allows a whole-scale transfer of power.  All candidates thanked the Acting Returning Officer, Nigel Lynn (whose day job is CEO of West Berkshire Council) and the counting team of more than 110 for working hard – and for 24 hours! – to deliver the election result.