Nigel Farage has delivered a mini-earthquake in British politics with the former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell capturing UKIP’s first parliamentary seat and the party squeezing Labour in its north-west heartland.
The UKIP leader declared early on Friday morning that he now leads the only truly national party after Carswell swept to victory in Clacton following a collapse in the Tory vote. Carswell won with 21,113 votes (59.66%) ahead of the Tory candidate Giles Watling on 8,709 votes, as the Conservative vote fell from the 53% that Carswell won as a Conservative in 2010 to 24.6%. The turnout was 51.2%.
The Liberal Democrats lost their deposit for the tenth time in a byelection this parliament after Andy Graham came fifth in Clacton behind the Greens with 483 votes, securing just 1.1% of the overall share compared with the 12.9% his party won in 2010. Labour came third on 3,957 votes.
Farage said his party could now reach into both Labour and Tory heartlands after UKIP squeezed Labour to come within 617 votes of capturing the formerly safe seat of Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester…