Labour hammered by Euro votes

THERE was no change in the political representation in Europe for the East of England after the results were declared last night.

Graham Dines

THERE was no change in the political representation in Europe for the East of England after the results were declared last night.

However Labour strategists, thankful that their MEP Richard Howitt was re-elected, found the party's vote collapsed across the region.

Mr Howitt dropped from fouth place to fifth as the Liberal Democrats picked up votes on the back of the expenses scandal at Westminster.

You may also want to watch:

Biggest winners of the night were the UK Independence Party's David Campbell Bannerman and Stuart Agnew, whose vote held up to see off Conservative hopes of winning a fourth seat.

After a five year gap, the region has a female MEP. Vicky Ford, from Cambridgeshire, replaced the pro-European Tory Christopher Beazley, who did not seek re-elections.

Most Read

Fears that the British National Party would cash in on the crisis facing Gordon Brown and Westminster were unfounded, polling 97,013, just a few more than was achieved by broadcaster Martin Bell in 2004 when he was stood as an independent.

Tory Euro MPs Geoffrey Van Orden, of Bildeston, and Robert Sturdy, who lives in West Suffolk, were re-elected. Their third placed candidate was Vicky Ford, who replaced Chris Beazley, who did not seek re-election.

UKIP's deputy leader David Campbell Bannerman, a nephew of the former Liberal Prime Minister, replaced Jeffrey Titford, who has retired, and Norfolk farmer Stuart Agnew replaced Tom Wise, who is facing allegations of money laundering.

Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff leadfrogged Labour into fourth place, but given Labour's difficulties, the party had feared that MEP Richard Howitt would be defeated altogether.

Seven Euro MPs were elected to represent the region which covers the counties of Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and the unitary councils of Thurrock, Southend-on-Sea, Luton and Peterborough.

It was clear what an appalling night it was going to be for Labour when the Huntingdon district result was announced at 9pm. The Tories polled more than 16,000, and UKIP over 10,000 with the Greens more than 900 votes ahead of Labour.

In Ipswich, the Tory vote was down by 900, but Labour's slumped by 2,000. The Lib Dems were also down, with the Greens and BNP increasing their.

In Forest Heath, Labour polled less than 900 with the Tories more than 4,000 and UKIP nearly 3,000. The BNP polled 705 in the district in which controversial farmer David Lucas, who builds gallows for export, lives.

In Colchester, the Tories topped the poll with 12,238 votes but the Lib Dems, who finished behind UKIP in 2004, increased their vote by 1,900 to 8,982.

In Norwich, the Greens topped the poll with more than 9,000, the Conservatives were second with 6,329, Labour third with 6,045. the Lib Dems 5,409, UKIP 4,400 and the BNP 1,700.

The lead Tory candidate Geoffrey Van Orden said the problems at Westminster had overshadowed the campaign and had probably been responsible for the Conservatives not winning four seats in the East of England.

“Five weeks ago as the campaign started, I thought we would win four places in the region. But against the backdrop of the expenses scandal, people angry with MPs protested by voting for some of the minor parties,” said Mr Van Orden.

“We have not had an opportunity to discuss the issues. People are crying out for change - change in Europe which the Conservatives can deliver and a change of government, which is what the voters really want.”

Andrew Duff, the lead Liberal Democrat candidate who has been an MEP since 1999, said the campaign had been “awful.” Mr Duff said: “It was been frustrating because the scandal at Westminster has totally clouded the main issues, including Britain's relationship with Europe.

“I am proud of our campaign. We concentrated on our beliefs, but it has been clear from the various counts and last Thursday's county council results that these elections were being used for the public to register their disgust with politicians.”

Mr Duff said that at the next elections in 2014, people should be able to choose a candidate rather than a party. “I favour proportional representation, because it is fair. And if the crazies and extremists do well, then that is democracy because people have voted for them.”

The disappointment for the Greens was evident when lead candidate and Norwich councillor Dr Rupert Read said: “I will continue to push for a new type of politics of fairness, openness, honesty, and diversity. The Green issues must have a voice.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus