Cameron: We've nailed Labour lies; By-election triumph 'victory for honesty' claims Tory leader.
Byline: JOE CHURCHER
A CRUSHING Labour defeat by the Tories in the Norwich North by-election was a victory for honesty in the face of Labour "lies", David Cameron declared yesterday.
The Conservative leader said an "utterly despicable" campaign presided over by Prime Minister Gordon Brown had backfired as his party easily snatched the seat.
Chloe Smith, who at 27 becomes the youngest MP in the Commons turned a 5,000-plus Labour majority into a lead of 7,348 in the first such test of public opinion since the Westminster expenses scandal.
She secured a swing of 16.4% and more than twice as many votes as Labour rival Chris Ostrowski, who held on to second place ahead of the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
Mr Brown said the reverse was "disappointing" but tried to play down its significance, saying no party "can take a great deal of cheer from this" as votes for main parties fell across the board.
He also conceded that the local popularity of Ian Gibson, the MP who quit after being banned from standing for Labour over his expense claims, had played a part.
"This is clearly a disappointing result, but...the voters were clearly torn between their anger and dismay at what has been happening over MPs' expenses, something that we are trying to clean up, and at the same time the support for the former MP, who was very popular."
"I don't think any party can take a great deal of cheer from this. The Conservative vote went down, the Liberal vote went down, only the fringe parties saw their votes going up."
Although the Conservatives polled fewer votes overall than the 2005 general election, it greatly increased its share to nearly 40% as turnout fell to 45%.
A repeat of the results across the country at the next General Election would sweep the Opposition into Downing Street with a majority of 218, Press Association analysis showed.
Mr Cameron renewed his repeated attacks on the PM's honesty as he hailed a "historic" win in a seat which he was visiting for the seventh time over recent weeks to celebrate the victory.
"I have seen a Labour campaign in this by-election that I would describe, and I choose my words carefully, as utterly despicable," he said.
"I say to this Prime Minister who talks about courage and who talks about a moral compass: where was the courage in not even coming to this by-election and where is the moral compass in allowing a campaign of lies and half-truths about your opponents? He went on: "This country has had enough of Gordon Brown's dividing lines, has had enough of Gordon Brown's misleading claims about his opponents, has had enough of Gordon Brown's claims about Tory cuts and Labour investment and all the rest of that rubbish.
"The party that was frank and open in this by-election and said that we were living beyond our means and it is the time to cut public expenditure won the campaign."
Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Conservative MP Chloe Smith (right) after her win in the Norwich North by-election