Liverpool

Southport is the Conservatives' only Merseyside seat

Image caption Damien Moore won the seat for the Tories with a 2,914 majority over Labour

There were not too many bright moments on general election night for the Conservatives, with Theresa May's decision to seek a larger majority in the House of Commons backfiring spectacularly.

One real positive for the Tories, though, came in Southport. Represented by the Liberal Democrats since 1997, the seaside town was taken for the Conservatives by Damien Moore. BBC Radio Merseyside's political reporter Claire Hamilton has taken a trip to the seaside to find out more.

The seat of Southport, which has changed hands 12 times since its creation back in 1885, has long been fought over by Liberals (of various forms) and Conservatives.

Image caption Martin Bos says he can't trust the Lib Dems

The last time Labour was in contention here was in 1966, when a very young John Prescott, who ultimately went on to become deputy prime minister, finished second.

On 8 June, though, a similar feat was achieved by Labour's Liz Savage, who described missing out on victory by fewer than 3,000 votes as "an historic result".

The red, white and blue bunting is out in Birkdale, a pretty village about a mile away from the seaside fun of Southport town centre. It's full of shops - butchers, bakers and independents.

Image caption Southport election result

Martin Bos owns the Barrel House beer shop and bar on the main road. A former Lib Dem voter, he was one of the 15,627 people who voted Labour here.

"The Liberal Democrats were campaigning saying Labour can't win here rather than campaigning on their own policies," he told me.

"The fact that Labour has finished second here might encourage people like myself - who in the past might have tactically voted Liberal Democrat - to go with their conviction and vote Labour."

Mr Bos said that while he supports the Lib Dems' stand on opposing a hard Brexit, he struggles to trust them overall.

'Flawed campaign'

Southport's former Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh retired ahead of the general election.

Given that there are no Labour councillors representing wards in Southport on the local council, the fact Sue McGuire only finished third in the general election must have been even more disappointing for them.

Out on the streets of Birkdale, shoppers said the Lib Dems' campaign strategy had been flawed.

Image caption The parties need to up their game in Southport says academic David Jeffry

One couple I spoke to were delighted by the Conservative victory.

"Astonishing, absolutely wonderful," said one. "We think the Conservatives are better at looking after the public purse," says her husband.

"The Conservatives locally were helped by an increase in the Labour vote," he adds. "Strange things are happening all over the country and it's nice for us that something good happened in Southport!"

'Labour target'

New Tory MP Mr Moore shouldn't be complacent, according to David Jeffry, a lecturer in politics at the University of Liverpool.

"I think we can see now that all the parties need to up their game. So if Labour want to win they can't rely on national swings - that's not going to be enough, especially because Southport has this inherent, historic pro-Conservative, pro-Liberal Democrat leaning."

Image caption Southport has either been Tory or Liberal since 1885
Image caption Labour has come second in the resort for the first time since the 1960s

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