UK election results 2010: Esther Rantzen fails to win Luton South

She drafted in her Strictly Come Dancing partner to model local fashions, boasted that Andrew Lloyd Webber would help her save a local theatre and even hinted that she could get Jamie Oliver to open a restaurant in town. But after nine months of name-dropping, the people of Luton South decided they didn't want Esther Rantzen to be their MP.

Not only did the Childline founder and former That's Life! presenter fail to oust Labour, who held the seat with a majority of more than 2,300, but with just 1,872 votes she lost her £500 deposit – paid for out of her own pocket, she said, as a 69th birthday present to herself.

It had all begun so well for Rantzen when she announced she would stand as an anti-sleaze candidate against Margaret Moran last summer. The disgraced Labour incumbent had been caught first claiming £22,500 to fix dry rot in a second home near neither London nor her constituency, later offering her services as a lobbyist when she was signed off sick.

Rantzen aspired to be a one-woman Jim'll Fix It for the residents of Luton during her thrice-weekly surgeries. She gave them hugs during custody battles, officiated over garden disputes and, at one point, even vowed to chaperone a frightened youngster through the darkened city streets.

The problem for Rantzen was that Moran stood down, while Labour's replacement candidate, Gavin Shuker, a 28-year-old church pastor, cast himself as a local, who cared more about his hometown than home renovations. Not only would he have just one home (in the constituency) and commute to Westminster by train, but that home would be in a student house-share.

It paid off. Shuker won 14,725 votes, or a 34.8% share. Rantzen was fourth with just 4.4%.


Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *