VETERAN Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody regained her Crewe and Nantwich seat with a record ninth consecutive election victory on Thursday.

Mrs Dunwoody, 75, the longest serving woman member still in Parliament, took 49% of the votes, a drop of 5% from 2001.

It was enough to give the London-born Transport Committee chairwoman the chance to beat Barbara Castle's record of 34 years' consecutive service for a woman MP, and Dame Irene Ward's record total of 38 years in the House of Commons, before the next General Election is due to be called.

A full term would also make her the oldest woman MP in history, an apt achievement for the suffragette's granddaughter whose mother, Nora Phillips, was a life peer in the House of Lords.

After the result was announced, Mrs Dunwoody promised to keep working on the issues which matter most to the people of Crewe and Nantwich, and fore-cast exciting times ahead.

She said: 'We have something to be proud of here in Crewe and Nantwich which we can build on. New investment, a new university and new opportunities for business mean we really do have a bright future and we will move forward together.

'It wasn't that long ago we were having General Elections with massive unemployment in Crewe and Nantwich. I think everyone here has seen the advantage of a strong Government when it comes to realising their dreams.'

As she hailed the historic re-election of a third term Labour government, she said she was not concerned about how Tony Blair's drastically reduced majority would hamper New Labour's goals.

She added: 'I have been in Parliaments with a majority of three. I regard a majority of 70 seats to be comfortable.'

The Conservatives maintained their standing as the constituency's second party, polling 32.5% of the vote, but candidate Eveleigh Moore Dutton's 2% improvement on 2001 was not enough to put any pressure on Mrs Dunwoody. Mrs Moore Dutton said: 'It has been a great privilege to play a part in the democratic process and I definitely wouldn't rule out standing again.

'I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and congratulate Gwyneth for her victory.'

The Liberal Democrats had a better evening, increasing their share of the vote by 5% with a total of 18.5%.

Candidate Paul Roberts said: 'I am very pleased to see we have had an excellent increase in our vote. I think this has been down to an excellent national campaign which has concentrated on issues which really matter to the people of Crewe and Nantwich.

'I look forward now to cementing our influence in the area through the county and borough councils.'

Peter Kent, the Labour leader of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, acknowledged the Liberal Democrats had emerged as a major political force, but warned they would be subject to a lot more scrutiny from voters from now on.

He said: 'They have had a good result. But I think their policies have escaped serious analysis in this election because they have acted as something of a protest vote. That will change.'


Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab) 21,420 Eveleigh Moore Dutton (Con) 14,162 Paul Roberts(Lib Dem) 8,083 Majority 7,078 Turnout 61.0%

Swing: 3.8% from Labour to Conservative


Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab) 22,556 Donald Potter (Con) 12,650 David Cannon (Lib Dem) 5,595 Roger Croston (UK Ind) 746 Majority 9,906 Turnout 60.46%