General election 2010: Rantzen fails in Luton South

By Sabine Klensch

The seat of Luton South has been taken over by the Labour candidate Gavin Shuker with 14,725 votes – despite a high-profile campaign from Esther Rantzen.

The former broadcaster, who originally decided to stand in the immediate wake of the expenses scandal, only won 1,872 votes.

Mr Shuker successfully defended the Labour seat despite seeing its majority fall by 7.9% compared to 2005, losing votes to the BNP and the independent Ms Rantzen.

Unlike many other races, the general tone of the campaign was very good-willed between the candidates. Immigration was the big issue in this seat.

The incumbent since 1992, Labour’s Margaret Moran, stepped down due to her connection with the MP expenses scandal. She had claimed an allowance for a home nearly 100 miles from the constituency.

Despite the public outrage over the expense issue, Labour came out of it almost unscarred and was able to hold the seat.

Mr Shuker’s victory shows he has successfully distanced himself and his campaign from the scandal, retaining a Labour hold under exceptional circumstances.