Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier hold Hackney with record-breaking majorities
- Credit: Pat Venditti
Hackney MPs Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier have retained their seats with a landslide – upping their majorities from 2015 by more than 10,000 votes.
Ms Hiller walked away with 43,974 votes in Hackney South and Shoreditch, 37,931 more than Conservative candidate Luke Parker.
Meanwhile Ms Abbott, who has suffered from ill health over the past fortnight, cleared 42,265 votes in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, gaining a majority of 35,139.
Amy Gray (Conservative) came in second place with 7,126 votes.
In her acceptance speech Ms Hillier said the vote indicated “people in Hackney have had enough of austerity”.
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She said: “The scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, the nursing bursary and the cap on housing benefit and the bedroom tax are just some examples of how the Tories have hit the poorest who aspire to better jobs and secure housing.
“And the cutting of free school meals and school funding have really bitten with voters in recent days. Parents have risen up against cuts to schools and the hopes of our young people.
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Add to this the incompetence in managing the NHS, education and housing and the Tories cavalier approach to leaving the EU and the Tories have failed our country.”
Ms Abbott meanwhile said they had been “vindicated” and had fought a “positive campaign”.
“The Conservative party fought a campaign characterised by the politics of personal destruction,” she said.
“And yet the British people have seen past that, and in Hackney they have supported our Labour campaign which was a positive campaign addressing the issues that concern people here in Hackney, whether it’s the state of our NHS, whether it’s the housing crisis, whether it’s benefit cuts.”
It came after a rough few weeks for the veteran MP which saw her replaced as shadow home secretary for health reasons following heavy criticism of her media performances.
She divided opinion with a series of interviews in which she gave what were widely regarded as unconvincing performances.
Speaking to LBC she incorrectly stated how much Labour’s flagship policing policy would cost and initially suggested the outlay would be £300,000, meaning that each new officer would receive a wage of just £30.
More recently she seemed to not know the details in Lord Harris’ report into policing when being interviewed on Sky News.
Following this incident she withdrew from an appearance on Women’s Hour, the BBC Radio 4 program that tripped Jeremy Corbyn up over his manifesto costing days earlier.
Minutes before she was due to appear on air she was photographed taking a phone call in Oxford Circus Tube station, just a short walk from the BBC’s Broadcasting House.
She also withdrew from a hustings organised by the Evening Standard, with Islington MP Emily Thornberry stepping in to replace her at the last minute.
Critics said Abbott’s campaigning showed her unfit for a senior position in government, while others said racism and misogyny meant people were focusing too heavily on her mistakes.
Ms Abbott wasn’t talking to the press at Thursday night’s count but looked calm as she walked in with Ms Hillier at her side.
The pair seemed to be happily chatting away about Labour’s unexpected performance as they marched in, both dressed head to toe in Labour colours.
Candidates from other parties who were swept aside by Abbott’s tally were quick to congratulate her on a fantastic result. Speaking afterwards, Lib Dem Joe Richards wished her a speedy recovery.
“You know they said that if Labour fought this general election on a progressive manifesto we would be swept away by a Conservative landslide,” Ms Abbott added. “They said if we fought this general election under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn we would be annihilated.
“But I am proud to say even at this point we have seen how the British people of all ages, all classes, all creeds and all colours have rallied to a positive message and rallied to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”