Richard North, 12/06/2004  

In what is the calm before the storm, a more refined estimate of the extent of the UKIP victory is now available. The vote looks to lie in the range 23-27 percent which, at the top extreme, could give the Party as many as 19 seats in England alone. A similar performance in Scotland could bring the number of seats to over the 20-mark.

This puts UKIP neck-and-neck in the poll, alongside the Tories, with the result too close to call for first place.

What is also now very clear is that UKIP has drawn votes from right across the political spectrum. Labour is being as much damaged as the Conservatives. This presents Blair with a particular problem as he was hoping to recover some of the ground from his drubbing in the Council elections by exploiting the Tory discomfort over the Euros.

Political insiders, therefore, are reporting that both Labour and the Tories are "looking very worried". Unusually, a lobby briefing is planned for 5pm on Sunday night, which means Blair might have something up his sleeve in order to divert attention from the issues raised by the election.

For earlier (but still relevant) coverage of the election, click here.

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