Clarke out as Lib Dems win Norwich South
Sarah HallNorwich South has a new MP after Labour's Charles Clarke was beaten by Liberal Democrat Simon Wright.Sarah Hall
Norwich South has a new MP after Labour's Charles Clarke was narrowly beaten by Liberal Democrat Simon Wright.
Mr Wright got 13,960 votes compared to Mr Clarke's 13,650 - a majority of just 310 votes - and a swing of four per cent.
Conservative candidate Antony Little was third with 10,902, while the Green candidate Adrian Ramsay finished fourth, with 7,095.
Steve Emmens, from the UK Independence Party got 1,145 votes, British National Party candidate Leonard Heather got 697 and Gabriel Polley from the Workers Revolutionary Party garnered 100 votes.
There were 47,549 votes cast - a turnout of 65pc.
Former teacher Mr Wright, 30, said he felt 'very excited' and 'tremendously honoured'. He said: 'This will be seen as a big scalp. But for me it is a combination of local and national issues.
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'I think people have had 13 years of Labour Government and have decided they want a change. I knew this was going to be incredibly close.'
Mr Wright, whose wife Ros is a Lib Dem city councillor, said: 'I have known from day one it was going to be incredibly close. I didn't know I was going to win until the declaration. It was that close.'
Mr Clarke, 59, said: 'I have been very proud indeed to have represented the fine city of Norwich over the past 13 years. I believe tremendous things have been done under Labour.
'It has been of great pride to me to fight for the city of Norwich and I am very proud at what I have achieved.'
He said he was 'sad' he could not continue that fight but said: 'I respect the decision of the people of Norwich which they are entitled to make.'
First elected MP in 1997 in the year Tony Blair swept to power, Mr Clarke became one of the government's big hitters as education secretary and then home secretary.
But his frontbench career ended in ignominy when he was sacked as home secretary in 2006 after it emerged that more than 1,000 foreign prisoners had been released from jail without being considered for deportation.
He has been one of the party's most vocal critics of the leadership of Gordon Brown.
When asked afterwards what had gone wrong for him in Norwich, Mr Clarke said: 'People decided they wanted to see a change and a change is what they are going to get.
'As far as my future is concerned, I will think about that overnight and come to a view.'