UK elections - does UKIP have a foot in the door at No 10?

Published 23 May 2014  |  
(Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage arrives at Cudham Church of England Primary School in Cudham, Kent, to cast his vote in the local and European elections, Thursday May 22, 2014

After voting drew to a close across the UK last night, councils have rushed to declare which parties have made gains as Britain holds its collective breath – "please not UKIP" appears to be the general consensus.

Despite this sentiment – and Twitter campaigns that have relentlessly mocked the anti-EU, anti-immigration focused party led by Nigel Farage – however, it seems so far that the results of the local council elections have offered UKIP a key foot in the door.

At the time of going to press, UKIP has gained 88 seats in local councils across the UK, while Labour has gained a respectable 143. Despite the valiant effort of Cameron's team, however, the Conservatives will be mourning the loss of a staggering 106 seats, and the Liberal Democrats aren't far behind with a disappointing 103 seats lost.

We won't know the outcome of the European election, in which 73 seats in the European Parliament are up for grabs, until Sunday, though it is thought that the local council election results will be indicative of what will happen on the European stage.

Former Mayor of London and Labour MP for Brent East Ken Livingstone has argued that Labour "woke up to [the UKIP threat] too late", and notes that Farage has "tapped into" the anger many Brits feel towards the extortionate cost of living, unemployment rates and rent increases.

However, he also added that it's unlikely the loudmouthed UKIP leader will make it to No 10: "Everyone's in love with him, but this time next year everyone will be saying 'who do I want in Downing Street?'" Livingstone says.

"They won't want to put Nigel in; it's going to be Cameron or Miliband."

Despite the huge Conservative losses, Cameron has rubbished claims that his party will make a coalition with UKIP at the General Election next year.

He also admitted that his government needs to "work harder" to address the issues the British public is most concerned about.

"The economy is growing, we are creating jobs, but...we have got to really deliver on issues that are frustrating people and frustrating me, like welfare reform and immigration and making sure people really benefit from this recovery.

"We will be working flat out to demonstrate that we do have the answers to help hard working people," he assured.

Stephen Beer, political communications officer for Christians on the Left, is delighted with Labour's performance so far, labelling UKIP's campaign as "divisive".

"As the results come in it is good to see Labour winning back councils," he says.

"The gains made by UKIP give us an indication of what might have happened in the Euro elections, though we will not have those results until Sunday and it is noteworthy that UKIP has not done well in London.

"Labour needs to build on its One Nation message, developing a broad based appeal that includes everyone. There are real concerns people have as they feel politics is not delivering and that is where Labour campaigning is increasingly focusing. It is in contrast to the divisive message from UKIP.

"Looking at politics in this country, it seems to me that there is a role here for Christians in promoting unity and understanding," he concludes.

Colin Bloom, Executive Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, suggested it was too early to predict a Tory defeat in the General Election in the 2015.

"I congratulate all the new councillors from all parties, and wish them the best as they serve their local constituents," he said.

"It's worth remembering that the Conservative Party is still the largest in local government, not Labour or UKIP, and given that this is the midterm election, when historically opposition parties do very well, these results must be very concerning for the Lib Dems and Labour."

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