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Clacton no longer target seat for Labour
2:54pm Friday 18th January 2013 in News
LABOUR has insisted it will not abandon its bid to win back Clacton at the next general election, despite dropping the constituency as a target seat.
The shadow cabinet’s list of 106 target seats does not included the seaside constituency.
A Labour candidate will stand, but little national resources will be spent on trying to win the seat.
Former MP Ivan Henderson won his seat during the 1997 Labour landslide, but lost to Tory Douglas Carswell in 2005 by just 920 votes.
At the last election in 2010, Mr Carswell massively increased his majority over Mr Henderson, gaining 53 per cent of vote, compared to just 25 per cent for Labour.
Mr Henderson said Labour was not abandoning the Clacton and Harwich seats, but had to strategically target the areas it was most likely to win.
He said: “All parties are finding it harder and harder to raise funds in the current economic climate, so cannot cover every constituency.
“They have to limit their resources to target where they have the most impact.
“What we have to do here us fill the gap with our own fundraising and get our own local resources and foot soldiers out there.
“The Labour policy is not to give up on any seat and we will fight for every council, European and parliamentary seat.”
Mr Henderson said that despite Mr Carswell’s increased majority, the influence of smaller parties could help Labour regain Clacton.
In the 1997 election, votes for the then UK Referendum Party helped him to beat the Conservatives by a narrow majority.
“The issue here will be whether UKIP stand and how strong their support is,” he said.
“In 2001 I won the election without having to rely on others, but in 1997 the Tories lost about 1,200 votes to the Referendum Party.”
Mr Henderson has yet to decide whether he will put himself forward for the next election.
Mr Carswell did not want to comment on Labour’s plans, but added: “I do not take anything for granted and I try to work as hard to serve life-long Labour members of the public in the constituency as I do anyone else.
“I’m not concerned about whether UKIP stand as I believe we need an open competition – the more that stand the better.”