18th Jan, 2020

Coventry South stays Labour as Zarah Sultana edges past Conservative rival Mattie Heaven

John Carlon 13th Dec, 2019 Updated: 13th Dec, 2019

ZARAH Sultana has become the new Labour MP for Coventry South, with a one per cent winning margin over the Conservative Party’s Mattie Heaven.

Ms Sultana, who during the campaign was embroiled in a row over her social media posts concerning Middle-east politics when she was a Birmingham University student – and one stating that she would “celebrate” the death of Tony Blair – clung on to Jim Cunningham’s former seat with a majority of just 411.

She polled 19,544 votes – well down on stalwart Mr Cunningham’s last success in 2017 – as the Conservatives came close to overturning Labour’s 8,000 majority.

The vote was so close it went to a recount.

Turnout was relatively good at 64 per cent, and the count shows many Labour voters switched to other parties in a city that voted Leave by 55 per cent in the 2016 EU referendum.

Labour’s position on Brexit and its shift to the left under Jeremy Corbyn – supported by Socialist Ms Sultana – have been blamed for the party’s worst polling for decades, including in Midlands constituencies.

In her acceptance speech, the 26-year-old former West Midlands Labour Party office worker pledged to have “an unashamed commitment to take on the privileged few, and transform society in the interests of the many…

“As a working-class Muslim woman, I feel the threats posed by a resurgent hard right Tory Party. But our movement has before and will again, beat back the forces of hate, division and austerity that have decimated our communities.

“The response to injustice is, and always will be, socialism.”

Stephen Richmond for the Liberal Democrats acheived 3398, Becky Finlayson for the Greens polled 1092 and independent Ed Manning took 435 votes.

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