Conservative Party candidate Stewart Jackson won a third term as MP for Peterborough before declaring rumours of his political death had been ‘greatly exaggerated’.
Amidst loud booing as the results were announced, Mr Jackson hit out at Labour who came second despite candidate Lisa Forbes increasing the party’s vote from 13,272 to 16,759.
Mr Jackson, who declared this was his ‘sweetest win’ as an MP candidate, retained his seat despite seeing his majority reduced from 4,861 five years ago to 1,925 with UKIP pushing the Liberal Democrats into fourth place.
The Lib Dem vote was sharply reduced from 8,816 in 2010 to 1,774 this time around, while the Greens came in fifth with 1,218 votes.
A poll last week from former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft had put Ms Forbes two points clear, a point referenced by Mr Jackson in his victory speech.
He said: “Rumours of my political death have been greatly exaggerated. Lord Ashcroft predicted I was dead and buried and my political career was over. But I’m not dead and buried, I’m Lazarus and I’m back.”
In an interview which followed his victory speech, Mr Jackson added: “It’s an emotional thing to have to apply for your job every five years.
“I had no plans [in case I lost] but I had obviously considered I might lose as the Labour Party made a big push to win the seat.
“Peterborough is a marginal seat and to be able to win it for a third time after going through the rollercoaster of the last five years, I’m absolutely delighted of course.
“As MP I’m going to see if I can help the city council improve education. I’m committed to good housing and good public servicing.
“I don’t have any aspirations for higher office. I think it’s an honour to be a backbench MP and I look forward to carrying on doing that job.”
Asked if this was best victory as an MP candidate, Mr Jackson replied: “Yes. This is the sweetest, not least because I was written off.
“[The Ashcroft poll] felt like a kick in the solar plexes to be honest because I wasn’t expecting it.
“I always had the inkling Lord Ashcroft might poll Peterborough, but I thought that I would be even-stevens or slightly ahead as the incumbent MP.
“So to be down by two per cent was a shock to be honest.”
Ms Forbes defended her party from comments made by Mr Jackson about the influence of union funding in her campaign.
She added: “A lot of people in Peterborough are really struggling out there and Stewart needs to recognise that. He needs to recognise people are struggling to put food on their table and put gas and electric in their meters.
“I hope he goes to Parliament and represents everyone in Peterborough and he thinks about those people too.”
On her own performance as an election candidate, Ms Forbes said: “I tried my best as a candidate. I’ve increased our vote share.
“It’s really difficult for the Labour Party when you’ve got all of the media against you.
“The sort of campaigns that the Tories have run is basically scaring the public into thinking that if we get a Labour government it will be chaos which is absolutely untrue.
“There were a lot of scare tactics in this campaign, but we will carry on. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and we will continue to represent the people in Peterborough because there’s a lot of people out there that desperately need us.”
UKIP candidate Mary Herdman believed she might have been a victim of tactical voting.
She said: “I’m disappointed, I would have liked to have done better. From the reaction I was getting from the streets I thought I had a chance, but every five years we increase our vote quite dramatically so it’s going the right way.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Darren Fower said: “I’m disappointed simply because I didn’t win. But our campaign team did exceptionally well.
“We managed to get some new people involved, we managed to create a lot of awareness around the city and we know we can take that forward to build on in the coming months and years.”
Peterborough had been a target seat for Labour with the party sending high-profile politicians such as Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls and John Prescott to the city before and during the campaign.
Mr Jackson won the seat in 2005 off Labour’s Helen Clark before defeating Ed Murphy in 2010.
He will now be sworn into parliament when it returns on Monday, May 18.
Stewart Jackson (Conservative Party) - 18,684
Lisa Forbes (Labour Party) - 16,759
Mary Herdman (UKIP) - 7,485
Darren Fower (Liberal Democrat) - 1,774
Darren Bisby-Boyd (Green Party) - 1,218
Chris Ash (Liberal Party) - 639
John Fox (Independent) - 516
Turnout - 65.15%