July 29 2014 Latest news:
Monday, May 26, 2014
The UK Independence Party and the Conservatives triumphed in the east at the expense of the Liberal Democrats who lost their eastern voice in Europe on Sunday night.
Each won three seats, with Richard Howitt taking one for Labour.
MEPs of many parties paid tribute to Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff, who has served three terms in the European Parliament, but lost his seat following Thursday’s vote. He claimed his party had been “clobbered” in coalition and confounded by a wave of nationalistic sentiment across the country.
Patrick O’Flynn, the top UKIP candidate for the east of England, hailed his party’s “political earthquake”, after taking more than half a million votes, ahead of the Conservatives’ 446,569.
The UKIP communications director added: “Voters in the east, as in the rest of the UK, are concerned about open door migration, about pressure on green field land and about living standards – but they also wanted to give the other parties a bloody nose and we have to recognise UKIP was a convenient vehicle for that. We now need to convince people to stick with us.
“We need to build on our strategy, work on our vision and broaden our agenda.
“If we do that we can be confident of winning seats in parliament.”
Mr Howitt, who was re-elected as the Labour MEP in the east, said the party must acknowledge UKIP’s success but not mirror their policies.
He added: “Labour has seen a big increase in its vote in this region but we must acknowledge the concerns that UKIP has tapped into – we do not reject those concerns but we do reject the prescription offered by UKIP. We say that Farage is a mirage.”
David Campbell Bannerman, who won a seat standing for UKIP in 2009 before defecting to the Conservatives in 2012, said: “I am rather relieved and rather delighted.
“This is a right wing victory today. That is a great bellweather for the general election,” he said.
The Green Party came fourth ahead of the Liberal Democrats, narrowly missing out on a seat in Europe after missing by 1pc in 2009.
Lead candidate Rupert Read said: “To become runner up twice in row is in one way very encouraging, but in another way, very gutting. It is difficult to take.”
Across the region 36.18 per cent of those eligible to vote turned out, ahead of a national turnout of 36 per cent.
And across the European Union it was 43.11 per cent – marginally ahead of the 43 per cent registered five years ago.
Last time the elections were contested in the east, the Conservatives won three seats, UKIP two, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats getting one each.