UKIP claims it denied Tories win
The Week in Politics with GRAHAM DINES
THE 2010 General Election outcome was a huge disappointment for the UK Independence Party across the East of England.
In last year’s elections to the European Parliament, they finished second behind the Tories in the popular vote and two of their candidates were successful.
But just 11 months later, none came within striking distance of being elected to Westminster.
In the 58 parliamentary seats in the East, 20 UKIP candidates saved their deposits, with the best results in percentage share of the vote being in Cambridgeshire North West (8.3), Thurrock (7.4%), Suffolk South (7.1%), Peterborough (6.7%), Witham (6.5%), and Suffolk West (6.4%).
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The result in Cambridgeshire North West was achieved despite the English Democrats standing in the constituency and picking up 1,400 votes.
But regional chairman James Moyies has taken some comfort from the outcome.
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“In the eastern counties, we increased our vote by 48% to 123,237 compared with the 2005 general election, and we had the second best regional share – 4.3% behind the South West on 4.5%.”
Euro MP Stuart Agnew says that although UKIP did not get the electoral breakthrough hoped for “we were extremely influential in the final outcome.
“It is clear UKIP candidates deprived David Cameron of his much coveted clear majority in the House of Commons.
“Best estimates suggest that UKIP candidates cost him 21 seats, which would have put him over the 326 seat margin he needed to form a government.
“His decision to ignore UKIP’s offer to stand aside at the General Election in return for a commitment to hold a referendum on EU membership during the life of the new Parliament now looks like a major error of judgement.
“Tory activists are saying as much themselves,” says Agnew. “I doubt we will be so easily ignored in the future.”
National party director Lisa Duffy says: “The way forward to breaking into Parliament is by standing and winning as many local election seats as possible.
“It is amazing how many more doors are open to you when you have letters in front of your name – councillors are the people who can really make a difference.”