JIM McMahon came through “a realIy difficult election” to earn a third term of office as Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton.On a disastrous night nationally for the Labour Party, the former Oldham Council leader kept his seat.
But Mr McMahon didn’t escape without a few bruises.
His 17,000 plus majority from 2017 was trimmed to just over 11,000 as the Conservatives increased its share of the vote with Kirsty Finlayson while the Brexit Party polled 3,316 through Helen Formby.
However, after successfully battling on doorsteps for votes and being attacked on social media over matters relating to investigations into historic child sex exploitation claims when he was leader of Oldham Council in 2013, Mr McMahon emerged triumphant.
He subsequently called it a “campaign of harassment and abuse.” And there were a few boos when his victory was confirmed by returning officer and OMNC chief executive Dr Carolyn Wilkins.
Mr McMahon added: “For months my personal character has been called into question and I have had to contend with some very difficult accusations that have been levelled at me.
“With the best will in the world I have tried to stay dignified and state my position clearly.
“It has been clear to some people that has been a factor of the election and I deeply regret that.
“I have always tried to do my best for the people of Oldham and this has been a very difficult election.
“It is a politics I have not been used to. You have got to be open to criticism and you have got to be open to challenge and you have got to conduct yourself in a transparent way.
“But what has been different about this campaign is that some very serious, sensitive issues have been exploited for political gain.
“In the middle of all that there will be innocent victims who deserve better than that.”
Mr McMahon, hugged by wife Charlene and scores of supporters, added: “I should say though most of the campaign was carried out with dignity and mutual respect and hard work.
“Regardless of the parties or rosettes we represent, we had some amazing people on this stage who just want to do their bit.”
With his party’s vote crumbling across the country and Jeremy Corbyn confirming he won’t stand again as leader, Mr McMahon added: “This clearly is not a good night for the Labour Party.
“I am watching my friends lose seats in other places, some very close to here, and that is very difficult to accept.
“The campaign we tried to run was about re-building Britain, being positive and holding the Conservatives to account for the damage they have done to the fabric of our community.
“I deeply regret we weren’t able to convince enough of the country that we were ready for office.
“We have got a lot of work to do but for now can I just thank the voters of Oldham West and Royton.
“You mean the world to me. I love this town and I am going to do my best to give you good representation.”
Four of the seven candidates – Garth Harkness (Liberal Democrat), Daniel Jerrome (Green), Debbie Cole (Proud of Oldham & Saddleworth) and Anthony Prince (UKIP) – lost their £500 deposits after failing to win five percent of the vote.
Oldham West and Royton
Jim McMahon (Lab) – 24,579
Kirsty Finlayson (Con) – 3,452
Helen Formby (Brexit Party) – 3,316
Garth Harkness (Lib Dem) – 1,484
Daniel Jerrome (Green) – 681
Debbie Cole (Proud of Oldham & Saddleworth) – 533
Anthony Prince (UKIP – 389
Number of rejected ballots: 117
Turnout: 61.03 percent