After 18 years, Vince Cable loses his Twickenham seat

We know it’s been a terrible night for the Lib Dems – but very few people expected to see so many high profile politicians lose their seats. Among them Vince Cable in Twickenham.

  

From the count at Richmond College Sports Hall, in the shadow of the famous Twickenham rugby stadium, it was evident there was nervousness in the Lib Dem camp and, quite early on, there was talk of the seat going to a recount.

  
As we watched the papers pile up for each candidate, we could see – in a very unscientific way – that Conservative Dr Tania Mathias was neck and neck with Dr Vince Cable. 

And then we could see her edge ahead. 
  
When Vince Cable appeared in the hall, it gave us an unofficial signal that there would be no recount. His team had already made it clear he didn’t intend to hang around for interviews, either before or after the declaration. 

This suggested they knew – or feared – it was bad news.

Could this really be happening? Was Vince Cable, a popular MP for 18 years, about to be unseated?

As we now know, he was. Having won by over 12,000 votes in 2010, this morning, he lost by 2,017.

  
  
Zac Goldsmith – who held onto his neighbouring Richmond Park seat – described it to me as this election’s “Portillo moment”.

  

The now new MP for Twickenham, Dr Tania Mathias, was clearly emotional in her victory and paid tribute to her predecessor. She said Vince Cable had been “amazing”.

  


When Dr Cable himself spoke he said it had been an honour to serve as MP here and he had been hit by “a well organised campaign, based on people’s fear of a Labour government and the Scottish nationalists.” He
 added it was a “terrible night” for the Lib Dems but the party would “bounce back both nationally and locally”.

Once the other candidates had said a few words there was an awkward silence, as the room took in this moment.

  


Vince Cable then made a swift but dignified exit, shadowed by many journalists. As expected he made no further comment.

A clearly emotional, and probably shocked, Tania Mathias also declined to give us an interview as she hurried from the room with her team.

  

Twickenham will miss Vince Cable, who turns 72 tomorrow, but the Tories are confident their new MP has what it takes to be a success.

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