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Lib Dems lose seats, gain another gay MP

Jessica Geen May 7, 2010

The Liberal Democrats now have two out gay MPs – but the latest count shows they have lost six seats overall.

The result so far has been seen widely as disastrous for Nick Clegg’s party, which hoped to capitalise on his perceived good performance in the televised debates.

Incumbent MP Stephen Williams kept his Bristol West seat and increased his share of the vote by nine per cent.

He got 48 per cent of the vote, beating Labour rival Paul Smith, who was on 27.5. per cent.

Stephen Gilbert won the new seat of St Austell and Newquay. A Liberal Democrat notional majority of around 600 had been predicted and Mr Gilbert won 20,189 votes, or 42.7 per cent.

Bisexual MP Simon Hughes also retained his seat in Bermondsey and Old Southwark. He won 21,590 votes, keeping Labour candidate Val Shawcross at bay on 29.2 per cent.

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat MP who was exposed for using male prostitutes in 2006, stood down as MP for Winchester.

Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats have no official list of their out gay candidates.

As of 10:30am, the Liberal Democrats are on 22.9 per cent of the total vote. The Tories are on 36.1 per cent, while Labour are in second place on 29.2 per cent.

This morning, Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg admitted his party had had a disappointing result.

Opinion polls in the last few days put them on 27-28 per cent, one or two points below Labour. This contrasted with polling after the final debate, which suggested the party had pushed Labour into third place.

A poll suggested the party would win the gay vote, with 59 per cent of almost 1,000 readers indicating they would vote Liberal Democrat.

Mr Clegg told reporters in his Sheffield Hallam constituency earlier today: “As for the national campaign, this has obviously been a disappointing result for the Liberal Democrats.

“We simply haven’t achieved what we had hoped.”

At 10.45am, standing outside Liberal Democrat HQ in London, he said the vote was a “source of great regret” to him.

He also said the voting system was “broken” and that he would continue to argue for electoral reform.

One of the party’s best-known MPs, Lembit Opik, was surprised when he lost his Montgomeryshire seat.

Mr Opik has held the seat for 13 years and is the Liberal Democrats’ highest-profile casualty of the election.

More: General Election 2010

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