General election 2010: Conservatives claim Basildon South and East Thurrock

By Matthew West

The Conservatives have successfully taken the seat of Basildon South and East Thurrock from Labour with a majority of 5,772.

With a swing of 7.5% from Labour to the Conservatives, the news will be welcomed in Tory HQ. The seat was number 17 on their target list.

Labour candidate, Angela Smith has represented the seat since the Labour landslide in 1997. Boundary changes in 2005 gave her a notional majority of between 900 and 1400 to defend.

There will be disappointment in the local Labour camp tonight. Whilst it was widely acknowledged that she faced a tough fight this time around, during the campaign Ms Smith told that she did expect to hold it. She was regarded a good local MP by Labour supporters, one said simply, ‘the feeling is if anyone can, Angela can’.

Basildon has historically been considered a bellweather seat but following the boundary changes whether this remains the case is less certain. The Conservatives will undoubtedly be hoping that it is.