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Coalition humiliated after big poll losses

This article is over 7 years, 11 months old
The government crashed in the elections. But the vote hasn’t gone to the left, writes Simon Basketter
Issue 2405
Post workers were part of the demonstration against Nigel Farage in Eastleigh, Hampshire last week
Post workers were part of the demonstration against Nigel Farage in Eastleigh, Hampshire last week (Pic: Jon Wood)

The government took a drubbing in the European elections. The Tories and Liberal Democrats crashed. 

It is the first time in over 100 years that neither a governing parliament nor direct opposition has won a national vote.

But the anger hasn’t gone to the left. Ukip got 27.5 percent of the vote and 24 members of European parliament (MEPs). 

Labour, on 25 percent, beat the Tories to second place thanks to a strong showing in London and have 20 MEPs.

The Lib Dems, on 7 percent, came fifth behind the Greens on 8 percent, and have lost all but one of their Euro seats.

Ukip topped the poll in six of 10 regions. In the East Midlands its vote was up 16.5 percent to 33 percent.

But Labour topped the poll in Wales, the North West, the North East and London where it increased its share of the vote by 15 percent to 36.7 percent.

In the local elections Ukip ate into a series of Tory strongholds. In Essex and Kent in particular, the Tories lost control of eight key councils including Maidstone, Southend-on-Sea, Basildon and Brentwood.

The Liberal Democrats have seen their vote plummet, losing control of Kingston in London to the Tories. 

Labour gained Hammersmith and Fulham, Croydon and Amber Valley from the Tories.


However, Labour struggled in some places. It lost control of Thurrock council because of a surge in Ukip votes. Thurrock is number two on their target list for next year’s general election.

Ukip benefitted from a wealth of publicity and a toxic anti-immigrant political climate.

Ukip is dragging politics to the right and has prospered through its fake but carefully-cultivated image as the outsider.

There is less of a Labour collapse to Ukip than some of the media are suggesting or hoping for. 

And even in Rotherham where Ukip did make gains, Labour remains firmly in control of the council, with 50 of the authority’s 63 councillors.

The election didn’t inspire overall with just over one in three people eligible using their vote.

The coalition is rocked. It has no mandate and no plans—except to hit workers harder and to divide people through racism and scapegoating.

The problem is that in response the attitude seems to be to pander to the right wing ideas of Ukip.

In better news the British National Party has been wiped out in the Euro elections despite a surge in support for far right parties across the continent (see page 6).

Racists have fed off the despair people can feel in the face of austerity. 

Instead of chasing the racists of Ukip everyone in the Labour movement needs to build a fight against racism wherever it is raised.

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