Sat. May 21st, 2022

Labor has held on to its Birmingham Erdington seat with an increased share of the vote following the election of Paulette Hamilton as the city’s first black MP.

Hamilton, a former NHS nurse, gained 9,413 votes in Thursday’s by-election and increased the party’s share of the vote to 55.5 per cent, up from 50.3 per cent in the 2019 election.

The by-election, which attracted a low voter turnout of 27 per cent, was triggered by the death of Labor MP Jack Dromey in January. The 73-year-old Dromey, who had represented the seat since 2010, was a prominent figure within the party and held numerous shadow ministerial positions. He was also married to Harriet Harman, the former Labor cabinet minister.

In her victory speech, Hamilton praised Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer for his “endless support”.

“I never thought I’d be running to be an MP, but the fact that I am now not only the MP for Erdington but the first black woman – the first woman to ever get the position – I am delighted and I am still pinching myself, ”she said.

The West Midlands constituency is a Labor safe seat, having returned an MP for the party at every election since its creation in 1974. In the weeks leading up to polling day, Labor frontbenchers such as Starmer, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy joined Hamilton on the campaign trail.

The by-election marked the first electoral test for the ruling Conservative party since police launched an investigation into gatherings at Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions.

The share of the Conservative vote fell from 40 per cent to 36 per cent, with Tory challenger Robert Alden finishing second with 6,147 votes. Hamilton, who served on Birmingham’s city council, increased Labor’s majority from 3,601 to 3,266 while Lee Dargue, the Liberal Democrat candidate, came sixth with just 173 votes.

Hamilton was criticized by some Conservative politicians this week after GB News, a right-leaning TV channel, revealed comments where she admitted that she was “torn” on direct action in politics.

At “The Ballot or the Bullet – does your vote count?”, A 2015 event that discussed ethnic minority political participation, Hamilton said: “Although I believe in the vote. . . I’m not sure we will get what we really deserve in this country using the vote. ”

Defending her comments on Thursday, a spokesperson for Labor said: “Paulette Hamilton is arguing for better representation for the black community in public life and as she is campaigning to become Birmingham’s first black MP she has a point.”

Support for Labor nationally has risen in recent weeks as the “partygate” scandal, looming tax rises and cost of living concerns dent the Tories’ popularity. Polling by YouGov found that 39 per cent of those surveyed would vote for Labor, compared with 34 per cent who would back the Conservatives.

The Labor party on Friday described Hamilton as a “local champion”.

“Increasing our vote share is a huge achievement and shows that with Keir Starmer’s leadership, Labor is regaining the trust of voters in our traditional ‘red wall’ seats in the Midlands after the disastrous results of the 2019 general election,” a party official said .

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