And so there we have it. Twickenham has spoken. And so have Hampton, St Margarets and Whitton. Even little old Teddington piped up. Bless. The polling stations have closed and the votes have been counted. The result? Vince Cable is ousted and we have the Conservative Tania Mathias as our MP for the next 5 years.
Are you surprised? We are. It’s one of the shocks of the night.
It was always going to be a two horse race between Vince Cable, Twickenham’s MP since 1997, starting off as clear favourite with his 12,000 majority, and the Tories’ Tania Mathias. A tale of two doctors, if you will. Over recent weeks Tania Mathias and her fellow Conservatives have been busy trying to chip away at the Liberal Democrat lead and even overturn it but it’s felt like something that they’ve been working on, if not for this election, then for the next one whenever that might be. Last minute visits to Twickenham by Messrs Clegg and Cameron added to the excitement and gave a fleeting sense that this might actually be a seat where an upset could take place but was a Lib Dem victory in real doubt? It didn’t feel like it but then again politics is a funny old game. They might well have taken a battering elsewhere but Twickenham seemed a relatively safe seat for the Lib Dems. In the end Cable’s 12,000 majority was overturned to give a 2,000 majority to Mathias. It’s a big big swing from yellow to blue. In his speech on the platform Cable said it was a “terrible night” for the Lib Dems and put the result down to a “well organised national campaign by the Conservatives”. For her part Mathias was gracious in paying tribute to his long service as an “amazing local MP for Twickenham” who it will be an “absolute privilege to follow”.
So, after 18 years as Twickenham’s voice in parliament Vince Cable must find something else to do with his time and Tania Mathias will have to get ready for a new career ‘up West’.
And what of the other candidates? Labour’s Nick Grant finished third picking up more votes for Labour than in 2010, with Barry Edwards of UKIP and Tanya Williams of the Greens trailing in behind. Again, no surprises there. Despite all the heated UKIP-related debate on this site and elsewhere, there was no big change to the landscape in the political garden here in Twickers.
What does all this mean for the next Government? After having a high profile MP for many years and a member of the cabinet for the last five, Twickenham’s MP will be a backbencher. At this precise point in time we don’t know the final outcome of the election but a very narrow Conservative majority looks likely. If it isn’t it may be a while before we get any sense of what coalitions might be viable. As they might say in the non-existent film Carry on Governing, “Just how well hung is our parliament going to be?” It’ll take a little while longer to find out. Discovering what it all means locally for the likes of schools policy, Heathrow expansion, job creation, affordable housing and mansion taxes may take longer still.
And that’s all for the moment, we say ‘Thank you and farewell’ to Dr Cable and ‘Congratulations and good luck’ to Dr Mathias.
The 2015 Results
Tania Mathias (Conservative) 25,580
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 23,563
Nick Grant (Labour) 7,129
Barry Edwards (UKIP) 3,069
Tanya Williams (Green) 2,463
Dominic Stockford (Christian Party) 174
David Wedgwood (Magna Carta) 26
The 2010 Results (BBC website)
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 32,483
Deborah Thomas (Conservative) 20,343
Brian Tomlinson (Labour) 4,583
Brian Gilbert (UKIP) 868
Steve Roest (Green) 674
Chris Hurst (BNP) 654
Harry Cole (Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality) 76
Paul Armstrong (Magna Carta Party) 40
Turnout 59,721 (74.8%)