Bury North has swung blue, with James Daly overcoming the 4,500 majority picked up by Labour’s James Frith in 2017.
A slight 61-vote margin announced at 3.45am led to a recount of ballot papers. Final results were postponed again by a second recount an hour later.
At 5.15am, it was finally declared that Conservative candidate James Daly had won with 21,660 of the votes, compared to Frith’s 21,555.
Gareth Lloyd-Johnson of the Liberal Democrats finished with 1,584, Alan McCarthy of the Brexit Party gained 1,240 votes, while the Green Party’s Charlie Allen collected 802.
Prior to the ballot, Brexit was declared by both candidates as one of the key doorstep issues confronted by canvassers. In Bury, the 2016 referendum wielded a 55% majority to leave, and clearly the mood hasn’t changed around the town.
Asked whether the seat was won and lost over both parties Brexit proposals, Daly said: “That’s what I was elected upon – get Brexit done – and that’s what I’ll vote for.”
But don’t be dismayed by Daly singing from the Boris Johnson hymn sheet, in our five-minute conversation he comes across passionately about Bury coming first.
“In terms of the promises that I’ve made to the people of Bury, I will not deviate from them.”
Daly can bet his tenure will be judged upon his ability to uphold promises to taxi drivers on free MOT centres being opened, to having more OFSTED outstanding schools across the constituency.
“I had a very local campaign, and I’d like to think Bury people supported my bold, positive vision for the town.
“I genuinely believe politics is a top down thing, you don’t go to London to massage your own ego, you stay in Bury. If theres a pothole outside your drive, that’s politics, that’s the first thing you do for people, to prevent their wheels getting ruined.”
Frith’s open stance to remain perhaps may have lost him his seat, for which the 42-year-old only occupied for two years, but the father of four backed his narrow loss as a testament to the strength of his campaign; particularly in comparison to other Labour losses across the nation.
When I asked if his seat was lost on a national interest rather than in Bury, he interjected: “Of course it was. Of course it was.
“When voters were looking for answers they found a wishlist instead of a plan for their lives.
“We lost by 111 votes – on a night where people have had their majorities cut by 10,000.
“Frankly the Labour Party needs to take a long hard look at itself. I don’t buy into the briefings that this was strictly a Brexit election. The idea that you send out now to pick up the pieces of this election – to a country that’s just rejected you – that this is actually what they meant by it is just full of birds.”
With regards to the incoming Tory government, the gracious Mr Frith launched his scathing opinion on what it means to Bury.
“We live in very anxious times, and it’s played its part. My fear is what a Boris Johnson majority government means for towns like ours. I don’t see any evidence of the real answers.
“We’ve heard a slogan but no scrutiny from Boris Johnson. He chose to hide in a fridge the day before an election, he didn’t want to face the heat of that scrutiny.”
MM also caught up with the Leader of the Council David Jones, who didn’t hold back in his scornful assessment on what a majority Conservative Government will look like in Bury over the next five years.
“We’re in the process of setting our budget for the council for the next year, indeed the next three years. With a five-year Tory Government, Children Services and Adult Care will be the hardest hit. It jumps out at you straight away!”
“The most vulnerable in society are going to suffer.”
“It’s an absolute horrendous crying shame that we are not able to look after the most vulnerable in society.”