UKIP celebrates stunning Euro election
THE UK Independence Party secured a spectacular election result in the East of England last night.The party, which wants to pull Britain out of the European Union, achieved the election of a second MEP – a bitter blow to both the Tories and to Labour, which each lost a seat compared to the 1999 result.
By Graham Dines
THE UK Independence Party secured a spectacular election result in the East of England last night.
The party, which wants to pull Britain out of the European Union, achieved the election of a second MEP – a bitter blow to both the Tories and to Labour, which each lost a seat compared to the 1999 result.
The Tories had been confidently expecting to retain four Euro seats but they were outflanked by UKIP's spirited campaign headed in East Anglia by Jeffrey Titford, a 70-year-old former funeral director from Frinton-on-sea.
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UKIP topped the poll in Tendring district and came close in Waveney and Forest Heath.
Other districts where UKIP picked up substantial percentages were Chelmsford, Suffolk Coastal, Uttlesford and Mid Suffolk. Even in Ipswich, it managed to out-poll the Liberal Democrats.
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Tendring was the only area where the Conservative Party did not "win" in the election where the votes were being tallied in the 48 district councils across the six counties of the region.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Martin Bell failed to secure enough votes to win a seat.
The allocation of seats under the complicated proportional representation system was held up because of a recount taking place in Colchester, but it later emerged the Conservatives had won three seats, UKIP two and Labour and the Lib Dems one each.
Previously, the Tories had four seats, Labour two and the Lib Dems and UKIP one.
Jeffrey Titford, who was first elected to the parliament in 1999, said: "We sent a simple message to the people of Britain and the public has emphatically responded.
"If the traditional parties in this country have not learned their lesson, we will meet them again in the next general election.
"We fully intend to field more than 600 candidates for Westminster and we intend to put up some high profile individuals to challenge the Tory and Labour vision of Britain heading towards a federal Europe.
Geoffrey Van Orden, who headed the Tory party list, said he had advised people tempted to vote for UKIP that they would weaken the Conservative Party's Euro-scpetic message, strengthen Tony Blair, and would help the Prime Minister propel Britain into a federal Europe.
"UKIP's message was simple and went to the heart of the matter, which had a clear resonance with the voters. Our message was not clear enough and I shall be having talks with Michael Howard to ensure that the Conservative Party reinforces its position as Euro-sceptic.
"I think Britain needs to have a close look at the nature of its relationship with the European Union, its costs and its benefits. This result demonstrates that people are fed up with more and more powers going to Brussels, which is interfering with everybody's day to day lives.
"People do not want to be run by Brussels – they support the single market but are against the creeping federalism of the European constitution and single currency."
Martin Bell, the man in the white suit, who stood as an independent candidate, said his campaign had cost him just £796.85.
"It is very difficult to get elected as an independent. I am not downhearted at the result but it is almost impossible to beat the party system in Britain.
"The system of the proportional representation used for this election is totally undemocratic. It must be changed. I would favour the single transferable vote with open lists which would allow the electors to choose which seven individuals they would like to see represent them in the European parliament."
Labour's Richard Howitt will have to cover the six counties of the East of England on his own – a daunting task which he says he will be able to undertake because "I am committed to this region, it's people and all the organisations within it".
"Labour may have lost a seat but we have not been obliterated which many people predicted might happen.
"The Tories have lost a seat which by any judgement is a very bad result for a Government in waiting."
EURO ELECTION 2004 – EAST ANGLIA'S MEPS
Geoffrey van Orden, Conservative
Robert Sturdy, Conservative
Christopher Beazley, Conservative
Jeffrey Titford, UKIP
Thomas Wise, UKIP
Richard Howitt, Labour
Andrew Duff, Lib Dem