TORY Richard Drax comprehensively defeated Labour’s Jim Knight in South Dorset.
Jubilant Mr Drax won the constituency seat by a huge margin of 7,443 votes when results were announced at 5.35am after a tense count at Weymouth Pavilion.
The victorious Tory polled 22,667 votes compared to 15,224 for the deflated and defeated Labour candidate. It was a massive swing from the 2005 election when Mr Knight received 20,231 votes against 18,419 for the Conservatives. The Lib-Dems trailed in third with 9,557.
Mr Drax pledged to perform as Member of Parliament for the area ‘with a straight bat’ and said: “I want to do this my way.”
He added: “The campaign has gone very well – I’ve had the most fantastic time.
“We played the campaign with a straight bat, with facts and the politics and not the personalities.
“I really think, having picked up on the door, that people are tired of the spin, personality contests and lies.
“The electorate are fed up with it, with the political situation we are now in.
“As MP I will continue to play with a straight bat and be honest because it’s going to be an incredibly tough next year.”
Mr Knight arrived at the Pavilion’s Ocean Room at 3am and kept a brave face throughout the count.
But following his defeat he said he was not sure what the future held.
He said: “I will be taking my son back to university on Saturday, going to watch Arsenal on Sunday and clearing out my desk in the Commons on Monday. I will have to sort out my staff and then I will see what crops up.”
“The campaign down here couldn’t have gone any better – I had a really good team.
“A huge number of people were helping out from all over the place, even flying in from overseas. It’s been magnificent.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Ros Kayes spoke in support of the former MP.
She said: “It’s not Jim the voters don’t like, it’s Gordon Brown.
“He’s had an impossible struggle given the unpopularity of the Prime Minister.
“I’ve been working really hard in the community and there’s been a lot of support for the Lib-Dems.
“We’ve had a 30 per cent increase in our membership during the last three weeks and there’ve been a lot of Lib-Dems who have been dying to come out of the closet.”
There was a 68.2 per cent turnout for the whole of the South Dorset constituency, which included a postal vote of 16 per cent.
Green Party candidate Brian Heatley said that he had hoped for a good turn-out but was more focused on the local council elections, which will be counted today.
He said: “I am standing for Wey Valley. It’s more important and interesting for me than the general election.”
UKIP candidate Mike Hobson pledged to ‘keep fighting’ for the younger generation.
He said: “I’ve been a businessman for 50 years and I’ve never given up.”
Movement for Active Democracy (MAD) candidate Andy Kirwood said: “We had a serious message – that everybody can join in a referendum.”