Labour triumph as UKIP claim to be 'second party of North'

Opposition wins three by-elections as Tories trail behind UKIP and Lib Dems lose two deposits

LAST UPDATED AT 08:56 ON Fri 30 Nov 2012

LABOUR won three by-elections last night, holding the safe seats of Middlesbrough, Croydon North and Rotherham. The results were expected, but it was nevertheless a miserable night for the coalition and a good night for the low-immigration, anti-Europe party, UKIP.

The UK Independence Party came second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, with the Conservatives trailing in fifth behind the BNP and Respect in the latter. The Lib Dems lost their deposit in two contests where their share of the vote was below five per cent: Rotherham and Croydon North.

Labour increased their majorities in Middlesbrough and Croydon North. In Rotherham, where the by-election was forced by the resignation of Denis MacShane over an expenses scandal, Labour's majority was halved, but the party's candidate Sarah Champion (above) still won by a comfortable 5,178 votes.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed his party's best election result yet in Rotherham, saying they were now "the second party in the North". He went on: "Our previous best ever by-election result a fortnight ago [in Corby] was 14.3 per cent and this one is comfortably over 20 per cent. UKIP is on the rise."

UKIP's vote is thought to have been boosted in Rotherham by a row over local foster parents having their children removed by social services because they were members of UKIP.

According to The Times, Farage said the foster fiasco might have had a slight bearing on the party's success but he downplayed its overall impact.

Elections expert Professor John Curtice, talking to the BBC's Today programme, highlighted what is becoming a worrying trend for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. "UKIP have clearly outpolled the Liberal Democrats in this year's seven parliamentary by-elections," he said.

The bookies are even saying UKIP are odds on to win one or more seats at the next General Election, with William Hill offering 5/2.

Former Labour minister John Healey said the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was in serious trouble. "The coalition parties are absolutely nowhere to be seen. This is a collapse of their vote," he told Sky News.

"We 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."

Eurosceptic Tory MP Douglas Carswell took the opportunity to send a message to Cameron, who this week rejected the idea of making a deal with UKIP over a EU referendum in order to defuse the threat they pose.

"After Rotherham, are we still so sure of that no-pact-with-UKIP-under-any-circumstances thing? Tactics ain't strategy, folk," tweeted Carswell. · 

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"surrendered the North to Labour, and perhaps UKIP as well."
We should recognize that "The North" is a different country and grant them independence. They can have Scotland.

hardly a surprise. Both major parties have squandered their integrity for a pocket full of (broken) promises. If UKIP continue to say the right thing, and the major parties continue to feather their nests regardless of us plebs out here, I wouldn't be surprised at a good UKIP showing next time we "elect" our "representatives". Democracy, Eh?Think I'd rather be managed by a benevolent and intelligent dictatorship that this bunch of idiot children

Perhaps Cameron and his "boy blunder" metropolitan advisors should now adopt a less sceptical stance towards UKIP - certainly, UKIP seem to be offering some hope to the otherwise "disenfranchised" ex Tory voters - rather more hope, it would seem, than either the Lib Dems (who are they?) and this unrepresentative rump of the once - proud Conservative party.

It is not just in the North of England that UKIP are increasingly popular - the South West of England - not exactly under threat of mass immigration as yet - is very politically aware and very Euro sceptic - Cameron has nothing to offer them except more "cast iron pledges" and vacuous "policy" statements, grasped out of thin air for the sake expedience and as a breathing space while he wracks his brains what to do next to save his chaotic Coalition.

I will stick my neck out here and predict between five and ten UKIP seats at the next General Election - enough, perhaps, for them to be taken seriously by those other parties who seem to think that they, alone, have a divine right to be in "the top three".

Yes - the North IS a different country - it is STILL England! London and the South East have become increasingly an "alien" country, beset by inward-looking metropolitan, inexperienced politicians - so, please think a little more before you knock the "North" and Scotland; England is NOT merely the South East of the country. By the way, I live in the South West of England - we are just as hacked off with Cameron, Clegg, Cable et al as our fellow-countrymen in the North, who had the temerity (aka good judgement) to vote UKIP in favour of either the Conservatives or the Lib Dems.

UKIP the second party in the north, likely to get up to ten seats in a general election?

Do me a favour, they have only one policy, which is completely barmy, and like the American Republicans there are not enough angry old white men to get them in.

Not that I don't wish them well in splitting the Tory vote, the sooner we are shot of this crowd of vindictive incompetent millionaires the better off we will be.

You lot in the SW are the silly b*ggers who vote LibDem. Given your Celtic ancestry, I'm puzzled that you have a Teutonic sense of humour:-)

I agree in part with your response - "incompetent millionaires" might be near to the truth - certainly Cameron, Clegg, Osbourne, Cable et al inspire no respect, admiration or confidence - however, and increasingly so, I believe, UKIP is filling the policy and personality vacuum left by both the Conservatives and Labour - let's face it - can they do any worse? On the Labour side we have the "one agenda" Harriett Harman - "equality, equality, equality!!!" - at what cost to our economy and to the country?

In fact, upon reflection, I agree with ALL of your response, but perhaps for different reasons from yourself - to split the Tory vote would be no bad thing - after all, surely (????!!!!) they cannot be any worse than Labour? (Don't even answer that!) - and Cameron cannot even be trusted with his own school blazer, even though he has his name sewn inside it - the Lib Dems are a bunch of naive idealists who have been sorely exposed as a policy-free area now that they are caught in the headlights of being (partially) in power and, as a result, answerable for their (lack of) policies.

Thus, to split the Tory vote might just force Cameron into a (rare) insight of common sense which might, just, persuade him to take UKIP (and the country's wishes and opinions) a little more seriously.

Good to debate issues with you again!

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