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Losers see signs of success in tightly fought race

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Victory in defeat: Sir John Swan speaks to the media after the result (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

For the two candidates who missed out on a seat in the House of Assembly after the Smith’s North by-election, there was certainly no humiliation in defeat.

Independent candidate Sir John Swan and the Progressive Labour Party’s Lindsay Simmons both pushed winner Robert King to the wire.

Sir John, an 88-year-old businessman who stepped out of public politics almost 30 years ago, lost to Mr King by only 25 votes.

Last night the former premier, who was in office between 1982 and 1995, declared a moral victory.

The rank outsider, who only entered the race in a surprise move last month, had always insisted that his campaign was driven by a need to break up the two-party Westminster system, and that voters wanted change.

Immediately after the result was called, Sir John claimed that he had proved his point.

He said: “My intention was to show that the Westminster system of two parties that we have now, where winner takes all, is something that really doesn’t work.

“You get locked into a system of five years or maybe ten years where you can’t make any changes. Loyalty is to the party and it shouldn’t be; it should be to the people.

“I wanted to change things. This wasn’t about me, it was about making a point and trying to make a difference. So I gave it a try because I felt that the country needed a new direction.”

Asked if he believed the result would inspire others to run as independent candidates, Sir John said: “I hope it does. I hope I’ve shown that the possibility of change is possible.

“Democracy has spoken and as far as I’m concerned, what this basically means is the country can carry on.

“I wish the OBA well in the next election and I wish the PLP well in the next election. This is democracy speaking.”

Smith’s North was held by Michael Dunkley, of the OBA, for more than a decade until his resignation in March.

He took more than 60 per cent of the vote in the 2020 General Election.

In yesterday’s by-election, Ms Simmons secured 181 votes to Mr King’s 209.

Speaking to the media and supporters outside the community hall of Christ Anglican Church, Devonshire, after the result was announced, Ms Simmons said that although defeated, the campaign inspired and encouraged her to continue her political career.

I feel great: Lindsay Simmons addresses the media after losing to Robert King by only 28 votes (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Flanked by party leader David Burt, deputy Walter Roban and other members, Ms Simmons said: “I feel great.

“I want to thank my team and everyone who came out to vote today.

“Today is just the beginning. I’ll continue to work. This was a close race, which means that I need to get more people out.

“Obviously I’m disappointed, but do you know what it showed me? That although I didn’t win, I didn’t lose by much, which means the work showed, and I’ll continue to do the work.

“Everybody behind me, the people that voted, my family and friends, I’m going to continue to push for them because I believe in this party and I believe we’re going to win the next General Election.”

Asked if she felt the result was a victory, Ms Simmons said: “I do, because I believe the people came out to vote.

“Today Robert King won and congratulations to him, but the General Election’s coming and I’m coming to take it.”

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Published May 23, 2024 at 11:08 am (Updated May 23, 2024 at 11:08 am)

Losers see signs of success in tightly fought race

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