Polls have closed in the West Lancashire byelection, with Labour confident of retaining the seat it has held since 1992.
The bookies made that the party is 1/25 to keep hold of the seat where it had a majority of 8,336 in the last election. A result is expected between 2am and 4am.
The byelection was triggered by the resignation of the Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who had represented the constituency since 2005. The decision came in autumn, a few years after she was targeted in a far-right plot, an event she says “undoubtedly took its toll”, and she has since taken up the job of chair of Mersey Care NHS foundation trust.
Labour’s candidate in West Lancashire is Ashley Dalton, a charity worker and trade unionist from Leyland, South Ribble, on the north border of the constituency. Dalton said: “As much as I love working at a grassroots level, I realise that after the last 13 years of a Conservative government, however many community projects I help to get set up, and however many community meetings I hold, they are hindered by the fact there aren’t the resources to actually give those communities the support they need to thrive.
“The only way I’m really going to be able to influence that is if I can get into the House of Commons and work towards a Labour government, so that we can make the changes that we need to see for communities like this one.”
Despite the targeting of Cooper, Dalton said the potential threats to her own safety had not deterred her from running for MP.
“Obviously we take it seriously and you have to be sensible about mitigating some of those risks, but it doesn’t put me off or scare me in any way,” she said. “I’m a gay woman that’s been involved in politics for about 20 years so I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty unsavoury comments and abuse. But that abuse is aimed almost entirely at shutting me up and I’m not going to do that.”
In the run-up to the poll, shadow frontbenchers, including Lucy Powell and Lisa Nandy, joined Dalton on the campaign trail.
The Conservative candidate is Mike Prendergast, a solicitor who is also a local councillor in Southport. Jo Barton, an activist and environmental campaigner, is standing for the Liberal Democrats.