Conservative Will Quince has been elected as the MP for Colchester in a shock result that leaves Sir Bob Russell tearful and “looking forward to time at my allotment.”
In a result that mirrored the national trend of Tory gains and LibDem wipe outs, Quince took the seat that Sir Bob has held for 18 years with an astonishing majority of 5,575.
The full result that was declared just after 5:45am was:
March Goacher,Green 2,499
Jordan Newell, Labour 7,852
John Pitts, UKIP 5,870
Will Quince, Conservative 18,919
Sir Bob Russell, LibDem 13,344
Ken Scrimshaw, Christian People’s Alliance 109
The turn out for Colchester was 66% – 4% up on the 2010 General Election.
This was a weird night at Charter Hall where the mood swayed around midnight and the local LibDem support disappeared off into the night.
There was initially plenty of optimism and visible support for Sir Bob on the floor. As the votes were verified, and then the bundles counted, it soon became clear that the blue piles were stacking up higher.
Mark Goacher of the Green Party was the first candidate to arrive. He was buoyant after a strong campaign that appeared to gain some ground in the past week or so.
He told The Chronic that it was all about momentum, and hopefully gaining a CBC seat at the local election count that takes place on Friday afternoon.
John Pitts of UKIP and Jordan Newell of the Colchester Labour party were next to arrive – separately.
Pitts was as bold as to declare that he might even win the seat. Jordan meanwhile was licking his wounds and playing the political long game.
By 2am and both of the two big hitters had still to arrive. Team Tory seemed to sense that something had shifted. A guard of honour was made for Will Quince as he entered Charter Hall.
The local LibDem party weren’t around to see this as they had re-grouped elsewhere.
Will did the media interview circuit, whilst everyone else just waited, and waited, and waited.
But where was Sir Bob?
Finally, just after 4am, Sir Bob entered the building to many tears.
He managed to hold it together himself, but this didn’t stop a high ranking cabinet member for walking out in a flood of tears.
The jubilation of the Quince arrival was replaced with a feeling resignation. The game was up for the LibDems, even before the vote was announced.
Sir Bob was generous with his time up in the press gallery, speaking with anyone who asked, pretty much reeling out the same dignified line: the LibDem tide had turned in the country, and he had been sucked out with it.
Local matters weren’t an issue.
And then just before 6am, the Colchester declaration was made.
And so what now for Sir Bob?
He talked a lot during his interviews about spending time on his allotment, and not having to work an 80 hour week.
Colchester certainly hasn’t seen the last of him.
Will Quince meanwhile will hopefully present a fresh, dynamic approach for a town that is in need of something different.
Exactly how the defeat of the Big Beast of Colchester politics will play out at a local level remains to be seen later on Friday morning.
Losing an MP has been a devastating blow for the party. Sir Bob HAS BEEN the LibDems in the town for the past two decades.
To lose control of the Council twelve hours later would be unthinkable for the local party activists.
Perhaps the stepping down of Cllr’s Barlow, Turrell and Hunt was a premonition?
But for now, Team Tory will enjoy their moment.
We hope that Will Quince continues his One Nation Tory view, rather than the Willetts World of his local party leader.