THE Conservatives swept to clear victories in Winchester and the Meon Valley, ending Mark Oaten’s 13-year tenure as the area’s MP.

Now both victors, Steve Brine and George Hollingbery, are enjoying a ringside seat to the unprecedented political drama as the parties put the finishing touches to a coalition government in Westminster.

Their defeated Liberal Democrat rivals are meanwhile considering their political futures.

Both victories had the element of surprise: many, including the bookies, thought Martin Tod would push Mr Brine harder than the 3,000 vote-gap in Winchester and Chandler’s Ford.

Mr Hollingbery romped to an easy victory over Liz Leffman with a majority of more than 12,000 in the new constituency of Meon Valley.

Labour finished a distant third in both, polling just over 3,000 votes in each. The turnout in Winchester was 76 per cent, up from 73.6 per cent in 2005.

The 2010 figure was among the 10 highest in the country.

Turnout in Meon Valley was 72.8 per cent.

There was some compensation for Lib Dems with their snatching of power on Winchester City Council.

At the count held last Friday afternoon, they won four seats from the Tories and one from Labour to hold power by the slimmest of margins for the first time in four years.

Mr Brine enjoyed a swing of nine per cent from the Lib Dems to take the seat, double the 4.5 per cent swing that saw the Tories also win Romsey and Southampton North from the Lib Dems.

Mr Brine, speaking to the Hampshire Chronicle on Monday, said: “I have been absolutely blown away by the levels of support — emails, texts, letters through the door from members of the public responding to my election, some saying ‘I didn’t support you, but I think you will make a good MP.’ “That support has been very humbling.”

He said he was brought down to earth on Saturday by being hit with wet sponges whilst in stocks at the St Paul’s church fete.

Meanwhile, Mr Hollingbery was enjoying painting out the side of his former kebab van. He said: “It’s taken me more than 10 years to be elected, so I’m going to enjoy finally getting rid of the ‘prospective MP’ tag.

“I’m delighted and humbled to be elected with such a big majority, which was a genuine shock — it’s been a bit special.”

Speaking this week, Mr Tod suggested reasons for his defeat.

He said he was unable to counter the effective Tory slogan of ‘vote yellow, get Brown’ and people’s fears over a hung parliament.

He said there was an 11 per cent difference between the Lib Dem’s parliamentary and city council votes. That suggested his support was hit by voters’ concerns that choosing Lib Dem would increase the likelihood of a hung parliament.

Also, Mr Tod said that Mr Oaten, an assiduous local worker, had much personal support among Conservative voters that drifted back to Mr Brine.

The increase in Tory vote from 2005 showed Mr Brine was successful in motivating his supporters to get out and vote. The Lib Dems also had the problem that there was little Labour support left to squeeze.

Even so, Mr Tod still polled the fourth highest losing total and secured more votes than 458 wining MPs.

He said of his own future: “I’m talking to friends. We want to stay in Winchester.”

Yesterday (Wednesday), speaking after the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed the first official coalition since World War Two, Mr Brine said: “I think people in Winchester, and across our country, want politicians to work together, and it was in the national interest at a critical time that we achieved this new secure and stable Government.

“We had to respect the verdict of the electorate to find solutions to the profound problems facing us: the debt crisis, our deep social problems, and our broken political system.

“As our local MP in Parliament, I will do everything in my power to make this work, and after a long and hard fought election campaign, locally I hope this new spirit of consensus will reach down into local politics as well.”