Mitcham and Morden election results: Siobhain McDonagh believes Labour failed core support

By Will Cracknell and Matt Trinder
December 13 2019, 09.00

MP for Mitcham and Morden Siobhain McDonagh expressed regret that that national Labour party had ‘let many of our supporters down’ despite her re-election last night.

Ms McDonagh’s 27,978 votes saw her finish well ahead of Conservative candidate Toby Williams on 11,482 votes, but with a reduced majority that reflects the national picture.  

In an impassioned victory speech, Ms McDonagh said: “Boris Johnson will be the Prime Minister of this country for the next five years. Brexit is coming and a recession not far behind it.

“It will be very hard for the most excluded and the poorest in our community and we, the Labour Party, did that by allowing Boris Johnson and his MPs to win when they were so beatable, but not by us.”

She said: “We have failed people. Great people with great Labour values have felt unable to vote for us at this election. That is shaming.”

The former assistant Labour whip felt that voters had deserted the party due to issues with anti-Semitism and discontent over the party’s manifesto which promised action ‘for the many, not the few’.

She said: “They were unhappy with what they saw as a very un-British extreme left policy platform. Nobody believed the manifesto. They didn’t think a government could do all those things and they knew that they would pay a heavy price for it.”

Ms McDonagh sent a series of incensed tweets after the exit poll was announced blaming Corbyn’s leadership for the party’s national showing.

She said: “My constituency has been let down by @jeremycorbyn! Those without homes, decent jobs & worried about the NHS. I stand with my constituents.”

In a flurry of Twitter activity over a period of more than an hour, the MP also said the result was ‘one man’s fault’ and that many voters in her constituency could not vote Labour because they ‘feared us & hated our leader’.

Conservative runner-up Toby Williams agreed with Ms McDonagh’s assessment.

He said: “A number of lifelong Labour voters have come over to the Conservative side here in Mitcham and Morden largely because of Jeremy Corbyn’s regressive and extreme politics and the fact that they feel that their voices have been ignored over Brexit.

“For the Conservatives to take seats like Blyth Valley [in Wales] is quite extraordinary.”

Ms McDonagh feels an interim leader should be chosen by the parliamentary Labour Party now that Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will not lead Labour into the next election.

She added: “I hope that over the next year the Labour Party will come to its senses.

“I would like to see as many people as possible stand [for the leadership] to have a real debate about what’s important and the issues we should put to the fore.”

Reflecting on the result, Ms McDonagh struggled to find positives on a disastrous night for the Labour Party.

She said: “It’s truly devastating. We will have fewer MPs now than we got in 1983 which was the last nadir of our electoral performance.

“I’ve canvassed eight hours a day almost every day. People were saying to me – “We really like you, we think you do a great job for the area.

“But we really don’t like Jeremy Corbyn, and we really don’t want Boris Johnson. I’ll vote for you because I can vote for you. 

“Or they’d say – “I’m really sorry but I can’t vote for you because I can’t risk Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.”

Her thoughts quickly turned to local matters too. She has been concerned for some time about the prospect of the dilapidated, 80-year-old St Helier Hospital losing its A&E and Maternity departments.

Health chiefs warned in August they want to provide all acute hospital services at just one site: Epsom, St Helier or Sutton. 

She said: “Come the New Year we will be in another fight about the future of [acute care] at St Helier Hospital. There will also have to be more police on the street because Boris Johnson made a big commitment about recruiting 20,000 more. My job is to get Mitcham and Morden’s fair share.”

The Liberal Democrats’ Luke Taylor finished third on 3,717 with Jeremy Maddocks of the Brexit Party fourth with 1,202 votes. Pippa Maslin, Green Party, polled 1,160, and Des Coke of the Christian Peoples Alliance was last with 216 votes.

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