IT was a case of ‘as you were’ for South Tyneside’s Labour MPs Emma Lewell-Buck and Stephen Hepburn as they emphatically retained their seats in the General Election.
Mrs Lewell-Buck polled 18,589 votes to comfortably hold South Shields – boosting her majority to 10,614 from the 6,505 margin she enjoyed when being elected to replace David Miliband two years ago.
And Mr Hepburn saw his majority in Jarrow increase from 12,908 to 13,881 as he polled 21,464 votes to successfully defend his constituency.
In both wards, UKIP finished second, with Norman Dennis polling 7,975 votes in Shields and Steven Harrison getting 7,583 votes in Jarrow.
Once again, it was a bad night locally for the Liberal Democrats with Gita Gordon finishing last in Shields with only 639 votes. In Jarrow, the party’s Stan Collins finished a distant fifth, with 1238 votes.
Turnout in Jarrow was 60.4 per cent, while in Shields it was a slightly lower 57.9 per cent.
A delighted Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I’m so honoured that the people of South Shields have once again put their faith in me.
“I have had a really hardworking, dedicated team working alongside me for the last six weeks and I believe we have got our message across.
“The people of South Shields have suffered under this Conservative-led government and I truly hope that a Labour government can be formed.
“I know the exit polls do not suggest that, but the result can be drastically different. I pledge to the people of South Shields to fight for them for the next five years.”
Mr Hepburn added: “The people of Jarrow have been hammered by this government. They have seen a growth in zero-hour contracts, no decent jobs, no decent pay.
“I hope this region gets a Labour government that we need, that somehow can be cobbled together.
“This is my fifth General Election victory, every one of them has been special.
“This one is particularly special because we need a Labour government more than any time in recent history.”
Norman Dennis, UKIP’s South Shields candidate said: “I think we have had a respectable result in coming second.
“At the end of the day, it was the people of South Shields’ choice and they have chosen Emma and I need to respect that.”
Robert Oliver, the Conservative candidate in South Shields, added: “Of coure, we would have liked to have received more votes but my sense is that this election has come just a little too soon for the Conservatives in the region.
“Perhaps we needed to see more of the benefits of the economic growth that we are building among the people of the region.”