UKIP collapse helped Carswell

ONE of the worst performances posted by the UK Independence Party in the election campaign was in their traditional heartland of Harwich, where their share of the vote fell by .

ONE of the worst performances posted by the UK Independence Party in the election campaign was in their traditional heartland of Harwich, where their share of the vote fell by .06% and Jeffrey Titford lost his deposit.

The irony cannot be lost on losing Labour MP Ivan Henderson, who needed UKIP's vote to hold up if he was to have any chance of defeating the challenge of the uncompromisingly Eurosceptic Conservative candidate Doiglas Carswell.

Had Mr Titford's vote increased by the Suffolk-Essex average of 1.5% achieved by other UKIP candidates, Mr Henderson may well have held on to his seat, But it seems the good folk of Frinton, Holland-on-Sea and Walton – where Euroscepticsm is at its highest – decided the Tory candidate was best placed to defeat the Europhile Ivan Henderson.

It was obvious on Tuesday and Wednesday when I toured Harwich Town, Frinton, and West Clacton that Labour's campaign was in trouble. Labour realised UKIP's vote had haemorrhaged to the Tories and that signal was being received also by the Conservatives, who redoubled their efforts.

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As Ivan Henderson looks through the results from other constituencies, he will see that Thursday's election produced 28 seats with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs where the UKIP vote is bigger than the majority. In other words, had UKIP's vote dropped to the same extent as in Harwich, the Tories would almost certainly have had another 28 MPs.

As Mr Henderson will gaze with envy on Corby in Northamptonshire, a constituency the Conservatives should have picked up on the sort of swings achieved elsewhere. They didn't because UKIP polled an incredible 12,078, or 20.36%. If only that had happened in Harwich . . .

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CYBERSPACE suddenly went ever so quit around 1pm on Wednesday. After weeks of being bombarded daily by e-mails from all three major parties, the flow was at an end as campaigning fizzled out.

The election result may well be regarded as a travesty – how can a party with just 36% of the total vote, or around 20% support of mainland Great Britain's adult population, get such an overwhelming majority?

Is it fair that the Conservatives could actually poll more votes with Labour in England, and end up with a 100 parliamentary seats less?

And how could the poor old Liberal Democrats – who yesterday were still defiantly proclaiming themselves "the real alternative" on their media releases – take 23% of the popular vote and only get 70 seats.

First-past-the-post is unfair, and this has been distorted in their past three elections by boundary changes which favoured Labour – although next time, the balance is redressed and the Tories will have a greater chance of winning.

It's tempting to write that we must have proportional representation. But surely we don't want MPs elected on a list system as used in Europe, where party bosses can manipulate who is sent back to Westminster.

Until we can devise an electoral system which keeps the constituency link with MPs, then no matter how imperfect first-past-the-post is, we should stick with it.

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