Labour holds two Westminster seats

Labour has had a solid poll lead in the Corby by-election, which was caused by the resignation of Tory MP Louise Mensch

Louise Mensch gave up the Corby seat in August to move to New York to be with her family

The counting of votes commences in the Corby by-election at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Northamptonshire

First published in National News © by

There have been swings towards Labour as the party held its two seats in the parliamentary by-elections, but the results were tempered by a low turnout of voters.

Manchester Central and Cardiff South and Penarth were both held by Labour as expected but the Manchester Central result was marred by a turnout of just 18.16%, the lowest in a parliamentary by-election since the Second World War. In Cardiff South, turnout was 25.65%.

Neither seat was heavily targeted by the Tories, who have been in a tight struggle to hold on to Corby, another by-election where the result will not be announced until Friday afternoon.

Stephen Doughty claimed Cardiff South and Penarth with 9,193 votes, while Lucy Powell won in Manchester Central with 11,507 votes.

In Manchester Central, the swing away from the Liberal Democrats was 16.77%. For Tory candidate Matthew Sephton, the result was so disappointing he lost his deposit as he only managed 754 votes, less than 5% of the total turnout.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband will now wait anxiously for the result in marginal Corby. A by-election was triggered in August when the chick-lit author-turned-Tory MP Louise Mensch gave up her seat to spend more time with her family in New York. From 1997 to 2010 the seat had been held by the Labour MP Phil Hope. But Mrs Mensch managed to win the seat for the Tories with a slim majority of just under 2,000.

A senior Labour source suggested the party could secure a majority of 4,000 in Corby, with the Tories in second. "We are increasingly optimistic about a good win in Corby," the source said. "Turnout is looking as if it will be 45% and the Tory and Lib vote has collapsed."

Meanwhile, Mrs Mensch took to Twitter to tell followers that she took responsibility if the Tory candidate Christine Emmett failed to retain the parliamentary seat. She tweeted: "Election result will not be a verdict on either Christine, or the Conservatives, but only on the decision I took to step down mid-term."

Manchester Central was vacated by Tony Lloyd so that he could stand in the PCC elections. Cardiff South and Penarth, where Labour won by just over 4,700 votes two-and-a-half years ago, was prompted by the resignation of another PCC candidate, Alun Michael, who has held the seat for 25 years.

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