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UKIP is now the 'second party of the North': Farage declare victory as panicked Tories hire new guru who warns northern voters feel 'ignored'
UKIP come second in Rotherham with Lib Dems humiliated in EIGHTH suffering their worst by-election result since 1945
Labour hold safe seat, along with Middlesborough and Croydon North tooChancellor George Osborne hires think tank boss Neil O'Brien as a special advisor, days after writing that the Tories had abandoned the NorthUKIP leader Nigel Farage says only his party is confronting issues like immigration
18:49 GMT, 30 November 2012
The UK Independence Party is now the main challenger to Labour in the North of England, leader Nigel Farage declared after his party surged in three by-elections.
Mr Farage hailed UKIP’s ‘best-ever by-election result’ after coming second in votes in Rotherham and Middlesborough, humiliating the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who saw support collapse to suffer their worst by-election result since 1945.
Former Labour minister John Healey also
admitted UKIP was now his party’s rival in the North, claiming ‘the
coalition parties are absolutely nowhere to be seen’.
In a sign of the growing unease in Tory
ranks about his poor performance in northern England, the party has
hired a new advisor who this week warned too many northern voters feel
ignored by Westminster.
Scroll down for video
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, pictured at the Rotherham by-election count last night, later had plenty to smile about as his party stormed to second place
Mr Farage said: 'One of the big issues affecting northern towns for example is immigration. We are the only party saying lets end the open door to eastern Europe.
‘Over the last six months we have established ourselves as the third force in British politics. We are consistently ahead of the Lib Dems in opinion polls. The UKIP message is resonating with voters.
'Plenty of voters are coming to us from Labour. The Conservative party are paranoid. They appear to be disappearing from the urban seats in northern England.’
In an attempt to address the problem, Neil O'Brien from think tank Policy Exchange has been hired as a special advisor for Chancellor George Osborne, focusing on developing policy for the 2015 election.
In an article for the Spectator
magazine this week, under the headline 'How Cameron & co abandoned
the North' Mr O'Brien warned: 'David Cameron inherited lots of political
baggage from the 1980s which makes it tough for the Tories to win a
hearing in northern cities.
Former Policy Exchange boss Neil O'Brien has been appointed as a special
advisor to George Osborne, days after writing an article for the
Spectator warning the Tories had abandoned the North of England
Humiliated: David Cameron suffered a loss of support to UKIP while the LibDems were left in eighth position in a byelection in Rotherham
northern voters feel abandoned by all three parties now, there is a
reason: to deal with a problem, you must first understand the problem.
And over the decades there has been precious little sign of this from
Westminster politicians,' he wrote.
His appointment as a taxpayer-funded special advisor – or Spad – also risked controversy, after he wrote on Twitter two weeks ago that the government should hire more.
He wrote: 'Spending on Spads now accounts for 0.001% of government spending. Still far too low and lower than Australia, NZ, Canada etc.'
UKIP's Mr Farage today hailed his party's result in last night's by-elections. Labour held the three seats up for election in Rotherham, Middlesborough and Croydon North.
But UKIP were the big winners, just
two weeks after the anti-EU party recorded a previous record best
by-election result of 14.3 per cent in Corby.
The result will heap further pressure
on David Cameron, who is expected to give a major speech on Britain’s
relationship with Brussels within weeks.
In Rotherham, where Labour’s Denis
MacShane was forced to quit after claiming thousands in expenses using
fake invoices, the party held the seat with Sarah Champion topping the
poll on 46 per cent.
But UKIP’s Jane Collins leapfrogged
the Tories, Lib Dems and the BNP to come second on 22 per cent. The
Conservatives dropped to fourth while the Lib Dems slumped to a woeful
eighth place, losing their deposit. Mr Farage declared: ‘Whichever way you look at it, UKIP is on the rise.’ UKIP is now the ‘second party in the North.'
Labour's Sarah Champion held on to the Rotherham seat vacated by Denis MacShane but the big story of the night was the gains made by UKIP
LIB DEM RESULT WORST SINCE 1945
The Liberal Democrats slumped to just 2.1 per cent in the Rotherham by-election, finishing in a humiliating eight place.
The party's candidate Michael Beckett lost his deposit, the sixth time the party has done so in the last 12 by-elections.
Nick Clegg's party came third in the seat in the 2010 general election.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the Lib Dem result was the worst by election result for the party in England since 1945.
It was 'an extraordinary embarrassment,' he told BBC News.
He said it was wrong for the Lib Dem leadership to dismiss it as 'just mid-term blues'.
Prof Curtic said: 'The problem for them is that it's a bit more than that. It's lot of voters who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 who are now of the view that what the party is doing in office is not what it said it would do when it was campaigning, and therefore they've lost a lost of trust.
'And it's looking as though that's going to be very difficult to turn around. Nick Clegg apologised for the tuition fees volte face a few months ago. It does not seem to cut any ice with voters at all.’Elections expert Professor John Curtice said: 'UKIP are probably hoping that they are now on a roll, certainly all the
way through to the European elections in June 2014.
night's performances were not a flash in the pan.
'The record 22 per cent vote in
Rotherham came just two weeks after a record 14 per cent in Corby.
the course of this parliament, UKIP's performances in by-elections have
been looking increasingly strong.'
UKIP, which advocates withdrawal from
the European Union, doubled its vote from the general election when it
came sixth in the seat.
row over a Rotherham couple who were banned from adopting because they
were UKIP supporters is likely to have boosted the party’s vote.
Sarah Champion won with 9,866 votes for a majority of 5,000. The seat
became vacant when Denis MacShane resigned in an expenses scandal.
Labour minister John Healey conceded UKIP was on the march in the
north: 'The coalition parties are absolutely nowhere to be seen. This is
a collapse of their vote.
haven’t seen any big names, or little names, from the Tories during
this campaign. David Cameron has big questions to ask… It looks like
they have surrendered the North to Labour, and perhaps UKIP as well,’ he
told ky News.
Democrat Michael Beckett limped in eighth and lost his deposit, trailing
behind the English Democrats and an Independent.
was also a bad night for the Conservatives, who came in second in
Rotherham in 2010 but saw their vote collapse and ended in fifth place.
Labour's Champion, a hospice manager, won comfortably with 9,866 votes, a majority of 5,218 (24.46 per cent) over UKIP.
The party's majority in a seat it has held since 1933 was marginally down on the 27.9% it recorded in the 2010 general election.
In Croydon North and Middlesbrough, by-elections today had been
triggered by the deaths of former energy minister Malcolm Wicks and
veteran MP Sir Stuart Bell.
Both Coalition parties candidates
were soundly beaten in Middlesborough too, with Labour's 26 per cent
margin at the 2010 poll almost doubling to a majority of more than 48
Former Middlesbrough councillor Andy McDonald secured 10,201 votes – some 8,211 ahead of his closest rival.
in Rotherham, UKIP made huge ground with candidate Richard Elvin coming
second with 1,990 votes, forcing the Liberal Democrats into third place
and the Tory candidate Ben Houchen into fourth – just three votes ahead
of a Peace party candidate.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, pictured campaigning in the Rotherham by-election, claimed he was now the main challenger to Labour in the North
UKIP had come in sixth place in the general election. UKIP candidate Mr Elvin said the result proved there was a desire for change. He said: 'There can be no doubt that UKIP is on the up.
'We are now the only political party which we can truly say can take the fight to Labour in the North East. As
the weeks and days go by, more and more people get to know our policies
and as soon as they get to know them, they come and vote for us and
join us, as they have in Middlesbrough.
will continue to take the fight to the three old parties that have
failed this country so terribly over the past few decades.'
Mr McDonald said the election result was a message to the Coalition.
'You don't understand us, you don't speak for us and you are a government that clearly doesn't care about us,' he said.
'Middlesbrough, I promise to fight for you and I will not let you down.'
Counting of the votes in the Rotherham by-election takes place at the Magna Science Centre, Rotherham
Results: Ukip candidate Jane Collins came second behind Labour, beating the Tories into fifth and Lib Dems into eighth
A man arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Middlesbrough yesterday as the North east town went to the polls to elect a new MP following the death of the long serving Labour representative Sir Stuart Bell
Battling with UKIP: David Cameron visits North Leigh Primary school in North Leigh, Oxfordshire after suffering losses to UKIP overnight in the north
'Tonight you have a new voice in Westminster, a voice that will speak up for working families who are having their budgets squeezed, young people who are struggling to find their first job and the millions ignored by this Tory-led government which thinks the priority is to cut tax for millionaires.'
Mr McDonald is a Middlesbrough-born solicitor for the trade union firm Thompsons, and a former local councillor.
Sir Stuart died last month aged 74 following a short illness. He had been the town's MP since 1983.
Labour also retained the constituency of Croydon North, romping home by a margin of almost 12,000 votes.
The party's candidate Steve Reed secured 15,898 votes and a massive 47.9 per cent margin of victory, up from the 31.9 per cent recorded at the 2010 general election by former minister Malcolm Wicks, whose death in September triggered the poll.
Conservatives took second place, with their candidate Andy Stranack receiving 4,137 votes, but the Lib Dems suffered an embarrassment with candidate Marisha Ray coming fourth behind the UK Independence Party and losing her deposit.
A predicted challenge from Respect failed to materialise, as Lee Jasper – a former aide to ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone – scooped just 707 votes.
Turnout was just 26.4 per cent and there was an overall swing of 8 per cent from Conservatives to Labour.
Mr Reed, the current leader of Lambeth Borough Council, dedicated his win to his late predecessor Mr Wicks, pledging to carry on his work, and attacked David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson in his acceptance speech.
He said: 'Tonight the people of Croydon North sent a clear message to David Cameron.
'He cannot be the one-nation prime minister Britain needs if he stands by doing nothing while Croydon faces one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in London.
'He cannot be the one-nation prime minister Britain needs if he is giving tax cuts to millionaires while pensioners here in Croydon are left to pay more.
'David Cameron needs to listen. People are hurting because his economic policies are not working. He must change course on the economy.'
Labour MP Toby Perkins said yesterday's results indicate Nick Clegg's Lib Dem party is heading for 'extinction' unless it leaves the coalition.
In a message on Twitter, the Chesterfield MP said the Rotherham result was a 'huge rejection of Tory and Lib Dem record', adding: 'Have Lib Dems seriously come eighth in Rotherham by-election They must pull out of this damaging coalition or face extinction – simple.'
VIDEO: The moment the result was announced in Rotherham