The table below shows the allocation of seats in the European Parliament per party.
Even the Liberal Democrats spoke out about their failure. Tim Farron, the president of the Lib Dems, had been talking down the prospects of the Lib Dems so much as winning a seat all night until the results from the South East region came in. For a party that had positioned its self as the ‘party of in’, to be almost wiped out of Europe is disastrous; even for a minor party in coalition a year before a general election.
There is little doubt that UKIP won. They didn’t secure a symbolic marginal but meaningless victory in the popular vote. UKIP have taken a real lead, and have 4 more MEPs than their nearest rival. This election was the first national election in the UK since 1910 not to have been won by either Labour or the Tories, and I believe the first in British history not to have been won by an incarnation of one of the three main parties. This election made history.
UKIP also secured a seat in Scotland, something that would have seemed like fanciful nonsense only a few months ago. UKIP can now claim not to be simply English, but to be British.
The Labour Party
Labour didn’t need to beat UKIP in these elections, but it would have helped. With such a painfully narrow lead over the conservative party, and the wide expectation that UKIP votes will go conservative in swing seats, Labour are not doing well.
The Conservative Party
The Conservatives did respectably. They lost a lot of seats, but the Lib Dems seem to have taken most of the heat for the decisions of the coalition government. The Conservatives do not need to panic heading into next year’s general election, and have so far avoided doing so.
The Green Party
The Greens did well, beating the Lib Dems by quite some way. However, the sharp rise in popularity predicted by the Greens in the immediate run up to the election never really materialised.
And GOOD NEWS! No more BNP. Nick Griffin publically conceded defeat considerably before results were official, asking his twitter followers how to remove the ‘MEP’ from the end of his Twitter name. No matter if your party had a good or bad night, this is enough to make it all worthwhile.
What this means
For the Lib Dems
Lib Dems aren’t happy. They’re a resilient bunch, but they’re also a hardworking bunch. There is a lot of discontent among many Lib Dems voted out of Europe. They legitimately fear parties like UKIP undoing the good hard work they’re proud of doing. There is a lot of truth to the idea that the UK have ‘voted out the hardest working MEPs in Europe and replaced them with the least hard working’.
This is manifesting itself as anger towards the party leadership. However, calls for Nick Clegg to actually resign aren’t as loud as calls for him to stop calling the Lib Dems the ‘party of in’. There is a very simple reason for this: there is no Lib Dem alternative. There is no candidate to replace Clegg, and despite the fact many (including Farage) are now speculating that Clegg’s time as party leader is up, it is unlikely Clegg will be going anywhere.
Well, its bad news. Labour aren’t on course to win a general election. Should these European Election results be considered representative, Labour would be seeking a coalition partner. If, as many believe, many merely ‘lent’ their vote from the Conservatives to UKIP, it’s a terrible day for Ed Miliband.
For the Tories
If you watched the coverage of the European elections on the BBC, you might have noticed a lot of Tories being a little too nice to UKIP. This stems from a very vocal group of Tory backbenchers who want a pact with UKIP. They want this for two reasons. Firstly, they see UKIP as being part of the conservative movement and the major ideals of UKIP as being fundamental to what they understand the Tories to stand for. Secondly, most of these Tories are in marginal constituencies and are worried UKIP will split their vote.
Where both party leaders have ruled out a formal UKIP/Tory pact, there is a lot of room for UKIP to negotiate their way into parliament and into government policy over the next year. This is the last thing most Tories I know would ever want, but it could happen after these elections.
Farage knows these elections are the high point for UKIP. However that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to enjoy his phenomenal success. UKIP can now say ‘we won a UK wide election’. It might make the more adamantly ‘pro-EU as it is’ take note, and (along with the successes of anti-EU parties across Europe) could push the EU to reform.
Despite the huge positives that come along with clearly winning the election, UKIP still won’t be able to make too much difference. They might continue to vote against or abstain in all votes in the European Parliament, however outside of Westminster they have little power to change it and their elected officials have so far shown very little will to do so.
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