Local elections – Labour reels from Ukip ‘mayhem’
Early results seem to indicate that main parties’ worst fears have been realised and Ukip have captured votes all over UK.
Labour was feeling the first tremors of the Ukip political earthquake as Nigel Farage’s surge prevented Labour from making its expected gains and weakened its grip in some of its northern heartlands.
Ukip polled more than a third of the vote in wards in big cities, such as Sunderland, Birmingham and Hull, where it previously had little or no presence. In Labour target seats further south and east, such as Portsmouth, a strong Ukip vote was destroying the party’s hopes of making more than 400 council gains.
The Labour group leader in Portsmouth, John Ferrett, admitted Ukip’s performance was “causing mayhem”. The party also suffered a major blow in a key election battleground after the Conservatives held on to Swindon council, days after Ed Miliband embarrassingly failed to recognise the name of the party’s group leader in the borough.
But the man in question, Jim Grant, insisted that Miliband’s gaffe had not had an impact on Labour’s disappointing showing in the Wiltshire town.
“That’s a big media event, I don’t think it has affected what has happened here. I’m a big fan of Ed but we’ve all got to work harder to get our message across.”
Labour had hoped that the council would at least slip into no overall control. In fact, the Tories ended up with 30 seats to Labour’s 23 and the Lib Dems four.
There were also signs that Ukip was doing well east of London, in places such as Basildon and Castle Point, confirming Farage’s claim that he can inflict unpredictable damage to the main parties across England, so leaving them less than a year to win the electorate back before a first-past-the-post general election.