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By-Election Fallout Continues

Elwyn Watkins

The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election may be a week ago now, but the repercussions of the contest and the outcome have continued over the last few days.

Our new MP, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, went to Westminster on Monday. The following day she was formally sworn in and took her seat on the famous green benches of the House of Commons, although it’s not clear yet when she will make her maiden speech to MPs.

Also in the Commons on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was asked by Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk about rumours that beaten Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins might be in line for a peerage. Mr Clegg replied simply: “I have not lent it any thought so far.” You can read the exchange at the Hansard website here.

Yesterday, Mr Watkins firmly scotched those rumours, when he told the Manchester Evening News that the suggestions were “absolute nonsense.” The MEN also spoke to the now-disgraced former MP Phil Woolas, who gave some brief thoughts on the by-election and hinted at his own future plans. You can read the article here.

Mr Watkins told Saddleworth News in the early hours of last Friday, following his defeat in the by-election, that it was “too early to say” exactly what he would be doing next. But he did comment: “I shall obviously be sitting down and having a bit of a think about what’s going to be happening in the future.”

Meanwhile, Conservative peer and donor Lord Ashcroft has argued that the party was right not to make a stronger attempt to win the by-election. Despite his own energetic efforts, Tory candidate Kashif Ali saw his share of the vote more than halve, amid suggestions senior national Conservatives were keen to give their coalition partners the Lib Dems the best chance of winning.

Lord Ashcroft, who carried out a poll of voters after election day, said the support the Conservatives lost was largely as a result of people voting tactically for the Lib Dems to try to beat Labour. He reasoned that a higher-profile Tory campaign wouldn’t have made much difference to the outcome. His thoughts and the outcome of his poll can be seen at the Conservative Home site here.

If you want to remind yourself of the by-election coverage from Saddleworth News, you can access every last article here.

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