VIDEO: Sarah Champion says Rotherham rejected ‘politics of division’ as she increases majority

  • Labour’s Sarah Champion increases majority in Rotherham seat
  • Ukip second with more than 30 per cent of vote
  • Liberal Democrats lose their deposit, while BNP chairman gets just 0.3 per cent of vote

Sarah Champion has said Rotherham rejected the ‘politics of division’ in the wake of the grooming scandal as she increased her majority in the town.

The Labour MP saw her 2012 by-election majority of 5,218 increase to 8,446 as she collected almost 20,000.

But Ukip’s Jane Collins also saw her number of votes go up as a result of increased turnout, with 11,414 people backing her, compared to 4,648 in 2012.

British National Party chairman Adam Walker stood in Rotherham as one of just eight national candidates for the far-right party.

But he lost his deposit after only collecting 225 votes - just 0.3 per cent.

In her victory speech, Ms Champion said: “There have parties trying to divide this down. I’m so proud Rotherham has said absolutely no way.

General Election count 2015'Magna Science Centre Rotherham'Labours Sarah Champion is returned as MP for Rotherham by a majority of over 8000 votes from UKIP'Picture Dean Atkins

General Election count 2015'Magna Science Centre Rotherham'Labours Sarah Champion is returned as MP for Rotherham by a majority of over 8000 votes from UKIP'Picture Dean Atkins

“We will get the pride back in this town together.”

Her victory followed an often-bitter campaign, which saw Ms Champion and fellow Labour MPs John Healey and Sir Kevin Barron involved in legal action against Ms Collins after the Ukip politician made claims alleging they had known about the town’s child sexual exploitation scandal.

Ms Champion said she would continue to fight for victims of child sexual exploitation in the town in the next Parliament.

She said: “I will fight for a better deal for our town, I will fight for justice for the victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation not only in Rotherham, but also nationally.”

She said afterwards: “There have been a lot of parties and media trying to create division. Rotherham has said no, we are not having that and we do want to go forward.

“For all the national attention, we have shown what a great town we are.”

She said she was ‘deeply honoured and humbled’ by her victory.

The win was welcomed by her fellow South Yorkshire MP Dan Jarvis, who won in Barnsley Central. He said: “I’m delighted. Sarah Champion has been a great MP for Rotherham, she’s a good colleague of mine in Parliament and I’m really pleased to see the people of Rotherham have returned her back to the House Of Commons and I think she’ll be a tireless advocate for them in Parliament.”

Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, added that Ukip would have expected to have performed better in Rotherham

He said: “Ukip will be very, very disappointed. Given the events in Rotherham I think UKIP expected to sweep the board.

“Labour have held up in Rotherham. That really is testimony to the MPs who have worked incredibly hard there, but also to the support networks and the party to keep saying, despite the problems, there’s still a lot of support for Labour values in that part of the world.”

Ms Champion secured a 52.5 per cent share of the vote, ahead of Ms Collins a 30.2 per cent share.

But despite her second place, Ms Collins said she was ‘delighted’ with the number of votes she polled.

She said: “It is a stepping stone for 2020. We increased our vote significantly and I’m actually quite pleased.

“What you have got to look at is Ukip is still quite a new party. When you look at the progress over the last 10 years, it has been absolutely phenomenal.

“I’m delighted with the number of votes we got here in the Rotherham constituency.”

Conservative Sebastian Lowe was third with 4,656, ahead of Liberal Democrat Janice Middleton with 1,093, TUSC’s Pat McLaughlin with 409, Adam Walker with 225 and English Democrat Dean Walker with 166.

The Liberal Democrat result was part of a disastrous night for the party in the Rotherham area, with all of its three candidates losing their deposits after failing to get at least five per cent of the vote.

Speaking prior to the results being announced, Rother Valley candidate Robert Teal said he understood why voters felt ‘aggrieved’ with the Liberal Democrats following the Coalition Government with the Conservatives.

He said: “We have had some difficult decisions to take and some of the decisions we have had to take have hurt people.

“When it comes to election time, people are looking for a party to blame and our party has been blamed for some of the things that have happened. We understand that. People will reflect in future that we have brought stability and done a respectable job. But I understand people feel aggrieved and can’t see the bigger picture.”