Published: 15:00, 27 May 2014
Swale went purple last week as UKIP secured 43% of the borough’s European election vote – almost the same as the three largest parties in parliament combined.
With a 33.5% turnout, the party secured 14,125 votes, with the Conservatives second with 8,236 votes, Labour third with 5,162 votes and the Lib Dems fifth behind the Greens on 1,314.
This helped Nigel Farage’s party double its number of MEPs in the South East to four.
The Conservatives have three seats – down one – while Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens hold one each.
Richard Palmer, UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, called the Swale result “excellent” and added: “We’ve hit a note with the people.
“In the past there’s been a lot of misrepresentation of UKIP by the main parties, who I think are running scared.
“The biggest shame in this election, which all parties including UKIP need to reflect upon, is that 65% of people nationwide didn’t vote, which shows the disenchantment with the political system.”
Mr Farage is reportedly considering standing as a candidate at next year’s general election, with Sittingbourne and Sheppey among seats he might wish to contest.
But Mr Palmer, who became his party’s prospective election candidate in December, thinks it is unlikely.
He said: “He’ll have to come and get the support of our Sittingbourne and Sheppey members, and although I’m sure they’d be delighted if he stood, I don’t think it’ll happen. I think UKIP will have a major say in next year’s general election.”
UKIP took 24 seats nationwide, nearly double the number it won in the last European election in 2009.
Tory MP Gordon Henderson said next year’s county and general elections could be “very interesting”.
He said: “It was quite clear from the beginning of the European campaigning that UKIP were going to do very well, and they have done so. I hope the leaders of the main parties take that on board and actually start listening to backbench members.
“I’ve been a Member of Parliament since 2010 and during that period I’ve consistently voted against the government, particularly on issues related to Europe.
“I find the position of the government totally out of step with the feeling on the ground, particularly in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.”
Despite trailing UKIP in Swale by almost 9,000 votes, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate, Guy Nicholson, said there were positives for the party.
He said: “The vote went very well for us. Coming second in the national poll was good news and we have a new Labour MEP representing us in the South East region where we didn’t have one before.
“All of this is good news and bodes well for next year’s general and council elections.”
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