Third sector minister Angela Smith became one of Labour’s casualties of the election last night, losing her South Basildon and East Thurrock seat to the Conservatives on a 7.5 per cent swing.
Smith polled 13,852 votes, but was comfortably beaten by Conservative opponent Stephen Metcalfe, who received 19,624 votes.
Angela Smith loses South Basildon and East Thurrock: view our slideshow of images from last night
She had been MP for Basildon since the 1997 election but boundary changes meant that the Tories were favourites for the new seat, regardless of the national swing.
Smith was appointed third sector minister in June 2009. She told Third Sector after the count that the third sector portfolio was one of the best jobs in government and one she had wanted to do. "To end my ministerial time in this parliament as third sector minister was fantastic," she said.
Before becoming an MP, Smith worked as a parliamentary lobbyist for the League Against Cruel Sports. But she said she didn’t know if she would return to the sector. "To be honest, I haven’t made any plans beyond tonight and getting some rest," she said.
Smith said she had loved being an MP for her home town and was disappointed to lose. "We've always known it's a possibility we could lose the seat because of the boundary changes," she said.
She said she was worried about the future of the sector. "My fear is that the third sector will be asked to do more for less. You can't do more for less.
"You can do more and there is a lot of opportunity for the sector to do more, but not by replacing the state and trying to replace state funding. The third sector needs government support, not for the government to abdicate its responsibility to the sector."