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Heavy defeat for Labour in European Elections
4:25pm Tuesday 9th June 2009 in News
LABOUR just clung onto its only seat in Euro elections for the south east after being beaten into fifth place by the UK Independence Party and the Greens.
In another mauling at the polls the party haemorrhaged more than a third of its vote as support for the Greens surged. At the end of a dismal night for Labour, MEP Peter Skinner was left its only representative heading back to Brussels from the south.
The UK Independence Party came second behind the Tories, but failed to win enough votes for a targeted third seat. However, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who threatened to bring in lawyers over folds in ballot papers, hailed it an “extraordinary result” and along with Tories called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to go.
Many candidates complained that the campaigning had focused on national issues rather questions of Europe.
Labour blamed the MPs expenses row for its woes. But for all the drama the proportional voting system left the state of the parties in the same position as the last vote in 2004.
Conservatives took four of the ten seats available, UKIP and the Lib Dems won two, with Labour and Greens holding a seat each.
The regional election count at St Mary’s Stadium, organised by Southampton City Council, was marred by technological failure with blank TV screens and delayed results.
The regional turnout was 37.8 per cent.
Nationally Labour notched up its worst share of the popular vote since 1910 with the BNP winning its first ever two seats in the north.
Southampton Itchen MP John Denham, put it down to “more voters staying at home who might have voted to keep the BNP out, rather than their vote going up”.
Across the 27 countries of the EU just 43 per cent bothered to vote – a record low. There was little shift in the balance of power on the revised 736- seat European Parliament.