Blow by blow: How Brent was won
Sarah Teather won the much sought after Brent Central seat in an election battle that saw the Liberal Democrats overturn a nominal Labour majority of more than 7,000 votes, writes Lorraine King. The former Brent East MP was neck-and-neck with Labour s Da
Sarah Teather won the much sought after Brent Central seat in an election battle that saw the Liberal Democrats overturn a nominal Labour majority of more than 7,000 votes, writes Lorraine King.
The former Brent East MP was neck-and-neck with Labour's Dawn Butler in a fight that was dubbed too close to call by both political parties.
After a painstaking count that lasted more than 12 hours, Ms Teather was crowned the MP for the newly formed constituency after attracting 20,026 votes against 18,681 polled for Ms Butler.
An impressive 61.4 per cent of registered voters turned out to have their say.
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Ms Teather told the Times she was delighted, honoured, shattered and just full of all kinds of emotions.
She added: "We always thought it was going to be neck-and-neck and it was, it was close.
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"I want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me. Whether you voted for me or not I am your local MP and I am here for you."
Despite seven candidates vying for the seat, all eyes were on Ms Teather and Ms Butler who had previously held seats in neighbouring constituencies.
But following boundary changes that resulted in part of Brent East being shifted to the new Hampstead and Kilburn seat and a section of Ms Butler's Brent South constituency going to Brent North, both women were thrown into the same ring to fight it out,
Initial speculation tipped the seat as being advantageous towards the latter MP because it contained a majority of more than 7,000 Labour voters.
Ms Butler, who took over her seat from Paul Boateng in 2005, was the bookmakers favourite to win the election but following the revelation she had claimed �66,000 in second home allowances the odds were gradually slashed until last week when Ms Teather, who had not claimed a penny, was seen as the forerunner.
During the count, both candidates and their supporters looked anxious as conflicting rumours of who was the overall winner filled the air.
Chris Leaman, Ms Teather's campaign manager, confidently told the Times she had won with a four-figure majority hours before the results were announced.
Ms Teather, who was the Lib Dem's spokeswoman for housing in the former Parliament, said: "Dawn had a 7,500 notional majority so it inevitable that people would think it was a full gone conclusion for Labour to win the seat.
"I think the expenses scandal did play a role in this but I think there were other issues as well like my record as a local campaigning MP.
"I have a constituency office open to the public five days a week and I work to help local people and use Parliament for issues that arise.
"But, national issues have also played a role.
"People think Labour has run out of steam and let them down."
During the election campaign, Ms Butler and several Labour councillors were forced to formally apologise to Ms Teather over defamatory claims they made about her in a leaflet they had distributed.
Following her defeat, Ms Butler thanked all her voters and supporters and said Ms Teather had fought a good fight.
But, she added: "Sometimes when your lost for words it's better to adopt somebody else's words.
"I would just like to cite the words of Maya Angelou (A black American novelist) 'You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you may trod me in the very dirt, but yet, but still, I'll rise."
The results for Brent Central are:
Sarah Teather (Liberal Democrat) 20,026
Dawn Butler (Labour) 18,681
Sachin Rajput (Conservative) 5,068.
Shahrar Ali (Green) 668
Errol Williams (Christian) 488
Abdi Duale (Respect) 230
Dean McCastree (Independent) 163