Election 2015: Sir Bob Russell dramatically loses to Conservatives in Colchester

The first ballot boxes are emptied to be sorted in Colchester Leisure Centre.

The first ballot boxes are emptied to be sorted in Colchester Leisure Centre. - Credit: Su Anderson

Sir Bob Russell has dramatically lost the Colchester seat he has held for almost two decades to the Conservatives in a shock result.

Mark Goacher, Colchester's Green Party candidate, views the count.

Mark Goacher, Colchester's Green Party candidate, views the count. - Credit: Su Anderson

Sir Bob, who has held the seat for the Liberal Democrats since 1997, saw his 6,982 majority gained over Tory Will Quince in 2010 reverse to a 5,575 deficit in a huge swing of more than 12,000 votes.

Mr Quince, 32, had been boosted by visits of Prime Minister David Cameron, chancellor George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May to Colchester in the election campaign.

Sir Bob, 69, said: “I am disappointed, but I know that we lost because of national factors, but I can’t complain because I got in in the first place because of national factors. I was brought in on the tide, and I would have preferred to have retired, but I feel I’m at my best now because of all those years of experience.

“But the Colchester electorate has voted and you have to respect that.”

When asked if the likely result signalled the end of his political career, he said: “I reckon. There are other things to do. I am the only person in my classroom at school who is still working – and I am doing an 80-hour week.

“Of course I loved it but having been a Member of Parliament for 18 years, then I think that is it. I have done 44 years and nobody in Colchester’s political history has held an elected office for 44 consecutive years.”

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But he expressed concerns over the future of the UK and warned the House of Commons would be “fractious” over the coming days.

He added: “David Cameron behaved in a way which showed him not to be fit to lead the UK. He played one part of the UK against another one and this is not football.”

The turnout for Colchester was 66%, up from 62.3% in 2010.

The breakdown of the result was: Conservatives 18,919; Liberal Democrats 13,344; Labour 7,852; UKIP 5,870; Green 2,499; Christian Peoples Alliance 109.

Mr Quince said: “I would like to pay tribute to Sir Bob for his decades of public service to the constituency and I wish him well for the future.

“Sir Bob has been a very good local constituency MP and a lot of what he does at a local level I will look to replicate.

“It is more about the stuff in Westminster ensuring that our voice is heard loud and clear and has a solid representation at Westminster.

“My biggest aim is ensuring that we get our fair share of infrastructure spending. We have had tens of thousands of homes built in Colchester without the adequate infrastructure to support the growth.”

Meanwhile, Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative Party candidate for Harwich and North Essex, said that he believed that the people of Colchester felt Sir Bob has had a “good innings” but that it was time for a change.

When asked why he thought people had voted for Mr Quince, he said: “Because in Colchester it is time for a change. Bob has been a highly respected and loved Member of Parliament but I think that people feel he has had a good innings, and also I think that the Liberal Democrats, by supporting the Conservative coalition, did what nobody really expected them to do, so a lot of Bob’s voters would have been very disappointed with that decision, though curiously it seems quite a lot of his voters have come to vote for the Conservatives – maybe they thought ‘why vote for a Liberal Democrat to support the Conservatives...why not support the real thing.

“Also, Will Quince is an extremely able young man. He will bring new dynamism and energy, and I think people will be very, very impressed with how he approaches issues in Colchester. He is really committed to Colchester.”

Asked if the age difference between Sir Bob and Mr Quince played a role, Mr Jenkin said: “Inevitably.”