General Election 2017: Huddersfield count report and results after Labour sweeps the board

Labour's Tracy Brabin celebrates her re-election as MP for Batley and Spen. Picture: Andrew Bellis
Labour's Tracy Brabin celebrates her re-election as MP for Batley and Spen. Picture: Andrew Bellis

There were jubilant scenes in Huddersfield as Labour held on to three seats and claimed a fourth from the Conservatives to turn Kirklees red.

Two of the seats - Batley and Spen, and Dewsbury - had been named as targets for the Tories, who fancied their chances when polls in the early days of the campaign had them on a 20 point lead nationally.

Ballot boxes arriving at Cathedral House in Huddersfield. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Ballot boxes arriving at Cathedral House in Huddersfield. Picture: Andrew Bellis

But as the process of verifying and counting the ballots got under way last night, it was the Labour camp that seem the most relaxed and upbeat of the two.

Labour candidate Tracy Brabin spoke about how Batley had been "buzzing" earlier in the day, while veteran Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: "I've never seen young people so enthused."

In the end, the Tories failed to take either of their target seats and faced an upset when they lost Colne Valley, albeit by a slim majority of 915 votes.

While other parties had fielded candidates in each of the four constituencies being counted at Cathedral House, voters in Kirklees were effectively left choosing between Labour and the Tories when UKIP - which came third in each seat in 2015 - did not contest any there.

Conservative candidate Beth Prescott and Labour candidate Paula Sherriff, who was elected for a second term. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Conservative candidate Beth Prescott and Labour candidate Paula Sherriff, who was elected for a second term. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Crucially the share won by UKIP was greater than each of the majorities secured last time round, meaning those voters held the power to potentially swing seats or establish more significant majorities for the incumbents.

As the polls opened yesterday morning, it was Dewsbury with its 1,451 Labour majority that appeared most vulnerable.

But for Brabin, in neighbouring Batley and Spen, the vote marked the first time that she would be up against a Tory candidate.

The former Coronation Street actress had only held the seat since October, having won the by-election held following the murder of her friend Jo Cox last June.

The counters being sorting through ballot papers at Huddersfield. Picture: Andrew Bellis

The counters being sorting through ballot papers at Huddersfield. Picture: Andrew Bellis

No other mainstream parties fielded candidates then as a mark of respect to mother-of-two Mrs Cox, so this vote was an opportunity for Brabin to firmly establish her position.

Dewsbury proved a fairly close-run race as anticipated, with Labour's Paula Sherriff and Conservative candidate Beth Prescott each increasing their parties share of the votes to garner 28,811 and 25,403 respectively.

It was a victory that had not come easily, with Sherriff using her speech to thank a campaign team who had "put their lives on hold over the past few weeks" as well as more than 100 volunteers who were out on the streets on polling day.

And she did not missed the opportunity to point out that MPs could have better spent these past weeks in supporting their constituents.

Barry Sheerman, front right, wins a 10th consecutive term as Huddersfield's MP. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Barry Sheerman, front right, wins a 10th consecutive term as Huddersfield's MP. Picture: Andrew Bellis

"I feel this was an absolutely unnecessary election with all the turmoil communities are going through," she said in a direct attack on Prime Minister Theresa May.

Just as Sherriff increased her majority, Brabin was also able to build on the majority secured by Mrs Cox in 2015 to comfortably hold on to her seat.

"Thank you to everyone who took the time to discuss our community and country with me in recent weeks," she said. "We may not have always agreed but those conversations represented the best of diverse, brilliant and beautiful Batley and Spen."

There had been little doubt that long-serving Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman would hold the seat for Labour, although he said nothing had been taken for granted after the early polls suggested a potential disaster for his party.

Comprehensive campaigning paid off though as Sheerman went on to win a 10th term with 60 per cent of the vote while increasing his majority to 12,005.

"I've represented this town for a long time and I'm so proud to represent a town that is a premier league town now," he said, acknowledging Huddersfield Town FC's recent promotion.

Counting continues at Huddersfield, where the results of four constituencies will be declared. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Counting continues at Huddersfield, where the results of four constituencies will be declared. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Accidentally giving away the party's yet to be confirmed victory in Colne Valley, he praised the three female MPs elected alongside him in Kirklees before ending his speech with a jubilant cry of "Upward and onward!"

While the Conservatives would have been disappointed to see the additional votes won in the first three seats outstripped by Labour, the narrow loss which cost them Colne Valley must have come as a real blow.

Jason McCartney had been elected in 2010 and successfully defended the seat in 2015, although Labour had seen the biggest increase in voter share that year.

With a 5,378 majority and early expectations that his party would be the big winners in this election, McCartney's eventual loss was the big upset of the night.

A stunned Thelma Walker began her victory speech by simply saying 'wow' before breathing a huge sigh of relief.

She offered thanks to McCartney for his service to Colne Valley over the past seven years, but said that as resident of the constituency for 30 years she had trusted people to "do the right thing".

In a swipe at the government, she said voters knew there was a "better, less selfish way to run the country".

Like her colleagues, she spoke about hearing the views of all constituents but she was unable to resist a nod to the Labour campaign when she closed with a pledge to be an MP "who would work for the many, not the few."

BATLEY AND SPEN - LAB HOLD

Tracy Brabin (Labour) - 29,845

Alan Freeman (Green) - 695

Mohammed Hanif (Independent) - 58

John Lawson (Liberal Democrats) - 1,224

Aleks Lukic (Independent) - 1,076

Ann Myatt (Conservative) - 20,883

Majority: 8,962

Total verified votes: 53,947
Turnout: 67.3 per cent

COLNE VALLEY - LAB GAIN

Cahal Burke (Liberal Democrats) - 2,494

Sonia King (Green) - 892

Jason McCartney (Conservative) - 27,903

Patricia Sadio (Independent) - 313

Thelma Walker (Labour) - 28,818

Majority: 915

Total verified votes: 60,653
Turnout: 71.87 per cent

DEWSBURY - LAB HOLD

Simon Cope (Green) - 1,024

Ednan Hussain (Liberal Democrats) - 1,214

Beth Prescott (Conservative) - 25,493

Paula Sherriff (Labour) - 28,811

Majority: 3,321

Total verified votes: 56,707
Turnout: 69.71 per cent

HUDDERSFIELD - LAB HOLD

Zulfiqar Ali (Liberal Democrats) - 1,155

Scott Benton (Conservative) - 14,465

Andrew Cooper (Green) - 1,395

Bikatshi Katenga (The Yorkshire Party) - 274

Barry Sheerman (Labour) - 26,470

Marteen Thokkudubiyyapu (Independent) - 75

Majority: 12,005

Total verified votes: 43,912
Turnout: 65.5 per cent

Colne Valley's newly elected Labour MP Thelma Walker, centre. Picture: Andrew Bellis

Colne Valley's newly elected Labour MP Thelma Walker, centre. Picture: Andrew Bellis

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