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George McManus, Labour, Beverley & Holderness

General Election

BULLISH PREDICTIONS before polling day that Beverley & Holderness could be Labour's only gain of the night turned to frustrated disappointment at 2.30am on Friday.

George McManus, an engineer whose career has taken him as far afield as the Falkland Islands, was bidding to improve on his party's showing in the Yorkshire seat in 2001 and overturn a 781 Conservative majority.

But a 4% swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats meant Conservative candidate Graham Stuart was returned victorious, despite a decreased share of the vote.

McManus old NCE: 'Perhaps some Labour voters have become disillusioned and switched to the LibDems, which seems to be happening across the country.

'We've now got an extremely right-wing Tory MP, as Tony Blair warned would happen.

'I think we had a fantastic campaign, but unfortunately when national factors come in they still play a part in local politics.' Earlier on Thursday evening, as he stood outside his campaign HQ in Beverley's quaint marketplace, McManus said he hoped a strong UKIP presence would dent Conservative chances and free the constituency from a 200-year Tory stranglehold.

He also expressed relief that an aggressive electioneering period had come to an end.

'It has been a very acrimonious campaign.

He [Stuart] has been putting himself about and there has been a lot of scaremongering going on. He's been calling me a liar at every opportunity.

'You don't call people's honesty and integrity into question. There's been very little discussion of the issues, ' he said.

McManus was the last of the candidates to arrive at the count, to avoid more contact than necessary with his opponent.

As counted papers revealed a gap beginning to open up, McManus complained of 'childish' remarks relating to his involvement in a failed business which had surfaced during the lead up to the election.

Following the announcement of the 2,580 Conservative majority, McManus said: 'It was a dirty campaign and that was unfortunate. I hope we can reconcile ourselves to working together.' He also pointedly thanked the LibDem and UKIP candidates for their gentlemanly conduct.

LibDem Brian Willie agreed that 'there have been some fireworks in this campaign'.

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