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Euro 99 Elections: West Midlands - Cheers as Tories win back their heartland.

The Tories regained their heartland in Birmingham last night when the party romped to victory in Edgbaston and won back traditional areas of support from Labour across the West Midlands.

There were cheers when the Conservative Party stormed to victory in the constituency it lost dramatically to Labour at the 1997 General Election.

The Tories polled 6,117 votes (42.11 per cent) in Edgbaston leaving Labour trailing with 4,193 votes (28.87 per cent).

The night had started with a Labour victory in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, with 3,424 votes, or 40.81 per cent of the vote. But the Tories then pulled together a string of victories.

In Tamworth, in the second result, the Tories built on earlier successes in the May local election winning 5,221 votes (39.38 per cent) against Labour's 4,491 (33.87 per cent).

The Conservatives also won The Wrekin with 6,392 votes (38.9 per cent) against Labour which polled 4,902 votes (29.84 per cent).

There were further Conservative successes in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire - which the party won back from Labour at May's local elections.

The constituency provided the party with one of the most resounding victories of the night and it took half the total vote, polling 8,549 votes.

The party also took Coventry South, Dudley North and Worcester, the cathedral city so spectacularly won by Labour's Mr Michael Foster at the last Election.

Labour rebel Ms Christine Oddy, standing as an Independent after being ousted from the Labour Party selection list, picked up significant votes in a number of the 59 West Midland constituencies. She polled well in Nuneaton where she won 1,847 votes (12 per cent) but it was the Tories who were victorious in the Warwickshire town with 5,198 votes (34.6 per cent). Labour in came second with 4,338 (28.92 per cent).

But one of Ms Oddy's biggest showings came in Coventry South where she came third with 3,600, representing 22.56 per cent of the vote.

She said she was "quietly confident".

The Liberal Democrats began their assault on Brussels in the Birmingham suburb of Yardley, polling 2,874 votes (29.56 per cent) in a closely-contested vote in which the Labour Party received 2,640 (27.15 per cent) and the Conservatives took 2,470 (25.4 per cent).

Labour scraped through in its safe Birmingham constituency of Northfield and polled 3,387 votes (33.96 per cent) just ahead of the Tories who took 3,270 (32.79 per cent).

In Ladywood, Birmingham, Labour took more than half the votes, polling 5,836 (52.86 per cent). The Conservatives trailed in second place with 1,789 votes (16.2 per cent).

Labour held Erdington with 3,886 (39.46 per cent) while the Tories came second with 2,828 (28.72 per cent).

As the fortunes of the UK Independence Party weakened in the West Midlands, the Party's No 1 candidate Mr Mike Nattrass claimed the Conservative Party had "stolen our colours".

He said the UK IP were the only party who wanted to come out of the European Union but the Tories had adopted a similar policy.

It was proving to be a disappointing election for Independent candidate Mr Michael Gibbs, of the EDP English Freedom Party.

He polled as little as ten votes (0.1 per cent) in Yardley although he received 122 votes (0.74 per cent) in The Wrekin.
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Author:Ede, Charisse; Summers, Deborah
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 14, 1999
Words:579
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