Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise and Rise of the UK Independence Party; Surge of Support Pushes Lib-Dems Down into Fourth

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise and Rise of the UK Independence Party; Surge of Support Pushes Lib-Dems Down into Fourth

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

TONY BLAIR and Michael Howard were both under pressure today after the UK Independence Party cut a spectacular swathe through their nationwide support.

Across the country, UKIP surged to take third place in the European election, winning 12 seats and almost 17 per cent of the national vote. Their breakthrough came mainly at the expense of the Conservatives, whose share plummeted from 36 per cent five years ago to 27.4 per cent.

While not nearly as bad as the polls had forecast, senior Tories were braced for a bout of infighting, with Right-wingers pleading for a more hardline sceptical stance at the general election.

Labour was hit almost as hard - losing more than one in five voters to plunge six points to 22.3 per cent, its poorest share of a nationwide election-since 1918. Although the party never expected to do well in the European poll, the dire figure was a fresh blow after the party's rout in last week's council battles. Charles Kennedy's Liberal Democrats were elbowed into fourth place but had the comfort of increasing their support by two points to 15 per cent.

With all but two results in, the Conservatives had 25 seats, Labour 17, UKIP 12, the Liberal Democrats 11 and others 3.

The pattern was repeated across Europe where governing parties suffered defeats and smaller groups of sceptics gained seats.

The first region to declare was London, where BT salesman Gerard Batten broke through for UKIP amid jubilation from supporters. That was followed by a win for former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk in the West Midlands. He is now widely expected to stand as leader of the party.

"We are the only party that throughout the campaign has talked about Europe and not lied," he claimed in a victory speech in Northampton. "We are the only party that has talked to the British people about the issue that concerned them."

Labour moved swiftly to steady nerves among its MPs after a weekend of soul-searching on Iraq and Tony Blair's leadership. He will face backbenchers tonight in a private meeting to begin a fightback strategy, focusing entirely on domestic issues such as schools and hospitals. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.