Friday, 23 May 2014

Nigel Farage: UKIP to be 'serious players' at general election

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his party will be "serious players" at the 2015 general election, in with a chance of securing representation in the House of Commons for the first time.

As results came in from England's local elections, showing gains for UKIP across the country, he said: "The UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen house."

Despite its gains, the party does not yet control any local authorities.

Labour is also making gains with Tories and Lib Dems both losing councillors.
Turnout looks set to be about 36%. Most results in 161 English councils are still to come. Euro election results are due on Sunday. Eleven councils in Northern Ireland are also up for grabs.

    With 71 councils declared, Labour has gained 123 seats, UKIP has gained 89 seats, the Lib Dems have lost 109 and the Conservatives have lost 110.
    Seven Conservative councils in the south of England have gone to no overall control, some following UKIP gains.
    Labour has gained Hammersmith and Fulham and Croydon from the Conservatives, and the Conservatives have gained Kingston upon Thames from the Lib Dems.
    Essex has voted strongly for UKIP - and the party has also increased its share of the vote in the north.
    But indications are it is faring worse in London.
    You can follow full coverage with all the latest updates at
    There is a special election programme on BBC Two from 12:00 BST until 18:00 BST with a break from 13:00 BST until 14:00 BST. There is also rolling coverage of the elections on BBC Radio 5live and further details on BBC Radio 4's World at One programme.

The surge in support for UKIP has sent shockwaves through the main parties at Westminster, with just a year to go before the next general election.
Mr Farage said: "There are areas of the country where we have now got an imprint in local government. Under the first-past-the-post system we are serious players."

The success of UKIP in Essex cost Labour control of Thurrock council.

And in the Labour heartland of Rotherham, UKIP took 10 of the 21 seats being contested.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "I think what we heard last night was a deep sense of discontent with the way the country's run and a deep desire for change.

"Across the country you've seen people voting for Labour to make that change happen: from Croydon, to Hastings, to Cambridge.

"You also saw some people turning to UKIP - and I am determined that over the next year we persuade them that we can change their lives for the better."
But Labour backbencher Graham Stringer - a longstanding critic of Mr Miliband - said it was now clear his party was not going to do as well as it expected.
The Blackley and Broughton MP launched an attack on Mr Miliband's campaign calling it "unforgivably unprofessional".

He told the BBC: "We have not done as well as we should have done in both the presentation of our policies and the organisation of the campaign.
Labour's shadow foreign secretary and election strategist Douglas Alexander dismissed the criticism, arguing that the party was making good progress in "key battleground marginal seats".
Some Conservative backbenchers have called for an electoral pact with UKIP going into the general election, with Jacob-Rees-Mogg warning UKIP could split the "small c conservative vote" and let Labour in.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps rejected a formal deal between the two parties, saying there was "no question of a pact per se".
The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said overnight UKIP had emerged as a "fourth national political force capable of disrupting the hopes and plans of each of the established three parties".

"[But it] is worth remembering that once every vote is counted UKIP will not run a single council, they will still have far fewer councillors than their rivals, they will not, of course, have an MP but - in the words of one Labour council leader - they will have caused mayhem."

The Lib Dems were enduring another bad night at the polls, although there were signs of them holding on in areas where they have MPs.

The party lost control of Portsmouth City Council where suspended MP Mike Hancock - standing as an independent but unopposed by the Lib Dems - lost his seat after 43 years as a councillor.
But Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said all of the "mainstream" parties had had a mixed night as a result of the "very strong anti-politics mood".

His party had done well in areas like Sutton, Eastleigh, Birmingham, Maidstone and Hull, he said.

"Where we can work really hard and tell our side of the story, we can win," he said.

But it was "never easy to see dedicated hard-working Lib Dem councillors losing ground", Mr Clegg added.
The Green Party, which is hoping to double its tally of MEPs to four, is performing moderately well in the local elections with an average 9% share of the vote in wards where it is standing.

Mayoral elections took place in four London boroughs and Watford.

In Northern Ireland, voters were electing 462 representatives to 11 so-called "super districts" following a reorganisation that took place in 2012, reducing the number of councils from 26 previously.

There were no local elections in either Scotland or Wales - apart from a by-election in the Hawick and Denholm ward of Scottish Borders Council.





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