It's been a little while but here's a quick look at a few seats in the East that could have been a problem for the Conservatives at the General Election. They had a few MPs badly hit by the expenses scandal in seats that weren't absolutely safe, although they'd expect to hold them easily under normal circumstances. They also had to unseat the awkward Bob Spink who was elected as a Conservative in 2005 but resigned the whip mid-term. He stood as an independent and although he was a constant pain in the neck for the party leadership he was popular in his constituency. The new Tory candidate Rebecca Harris wasn't a shoe in to take it back for her party. As it was the Conservatives held on to all their seats in the East.
Harwich & Essex North
Harwich & Essex North Bernard Jenkin was second in the expenses repayment list, which isn't an achievement to be proud of! Jenkin had been renting a farmhouse from his sister-in-law, breaking the rule that MPs can't use family members as landlords. Despite this he managed to out perform the regional LAB>CON swing by some way and he was easily re-elected.
Anne Main in St Albans had a tougher battle to hold on to her seat. This is probably because the Liberal Democrats were in a position to challenge here, unlike in Jenkin's constituency where they were a distant third in 2005. Labour needed just 1.5% swing to take St Albans but, as was the norm in this region, their vote spectacularly collapsed. This left the Lib Dems as the biggest threat but they couldn't quite pull off the 6% swing needed. Anne Main's expenses issue was that here second home wasn't actually her second home; it was her daughter's main home. Another revelation that wasn't only against the spirit of the rules, it was actually against the rules. The Lib Dems increased their vote by 11% so they held up their side of the bargain. Unfortunately for them Main's vote also held up and she was re-elected with a couple thousand votes to spare.
Steward Jackson was fighting a more of a PR battle in his Peterborough, although his expenses claims weren't inconsequential. He initially had his 'excessive' claims flagged up but his unrelated comments about his constituents could have cost him his seat. In defence of the Conservative led local authority Jackson labelled some residents in his constituency as 'whingers and moaners'. He managed to survive quite comfortably in the end but he underperformed the regional swing by some way. In fact, his vote dropped but a couple of percent but, luckily for him, it mostly drifted to the minor parties, especially UKIP. Although he didn't lose his seat this time Jackson will be nervously looking over his shoulder when Labour turn the corner. He hasn't managed to make this seat particularly safe for the Tories.
Finally the Conservatives did managed to regain Castle Point from Bob Spink, but not with out a fight. Here's our preview of the constituency from before the election and although I called this right I didn't expect Spink to do so well. He managed 27% of the vote as an Independent candidate, which was only bettered on the mainland by Richard Taylor in Wyre Forest. The Conservative candidate Rebecca Harris still managed a comfortable hold, aided by the disastrous performance by Labour. Their vote dropped by over 16%, which could well have been squeezed by the Spink/Harris battle.