Ukip has outstripped Lib Dems, claims leader

Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 00:00

The leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip), Nigel Farage, claimed yesterday that his party has displaced the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the governing coalition, as the “third force” in British politics after it performed strongly in three parliamentary byelections on Thursday.

In the party’s strongest showing in a parliamentary byelection, Ukip secured 21.79 per cent of the vote in Rotherham, claiming second place behind Labour, which won with 46.25 per cent. The Lib Dems trailed in eighth place on 2.11 per cent.

Labour scored a hat-trick of comfortable victories in the three byelections, held in safe seats of Rotherham, Middlesbrough and Croydon North.

Sarah Champion won with 9,866 votes in Rotherham, though Labour’s overall vote increased by just 1.62 percentage points.

Labour’s failure to build significantly on its support may have been due to anger over the resignation of the previous Labour MP, Denis MacShane, after a House of Commons committee censured him over his expenses.

Andy McDonald won for Labour in Middlesbrough with 10,201 votes, an increase of 14.6 points, according to the BBC. In Croydon North, Labour’s vote increased by 8.69 points as Steve Reed won with 15,898 votes.

Party leader Ed Miliband said the results were an endorsement of his centre ground, “one nation” Labour strategy. – (Guardian service)