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UK Politics

Local election results 2014: Ed Miliband criticised for leading 'unforgivably unprofessional' campaign

Two of the largest parties in Westminster began losing control of councils as a result of gains for the Ukip party

Ed Miliband has faced a backlash of criticism from his own party as Ukip won seats in both Labour and Conservative strongholds, with Labour MP Graham Stringer accusing him of leading an “unforgivably unprofessional campaign” in the run up to the local elections.

The Tories and Labour alike were reeling today from a series of defeats at the hands of Ukip in early results from the local council elections. Votes indicated that Essex has voted strongly for Ukip and the party also made inroads in Labour's northern heartlands.

While Labour gained seats, including taking the Tory-led Hammersmith and Fulham and Croydon councils, the surge in votes for Ukip hit the party hard.

Miliband however put the results down to a "deep sense of discontent with the way the country is run" and said votes for Ukip "are an expression of this discontent" and a desire for change.

This morning, David Cameron also admitted the Tories would need to show they have "answers" on issues such as immigration and welfare reform, after conceding the public were "frustrated" with the political establishment's failure to address their concerns.

Ahead of the results, Miliband found himself subject to a scathing attack from a 'leading Labour figure', who was quoted by The Times as saying: “the narrative around Ed Miliband, because it’s the truth, is that he looks weird, sounds weird, is weird.”

This comes just three days after a poll by ComRes and ITV News that showed Nigel Farage is the party leader most likely to be considered ‘weird’ by the British public.

Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, criticised the Labour leader on BBC Radio 4 for not knowing his cost of living, saying: “The centrepiece has been the cost of living but Ed didn’t know his own cost of living. He didn’t know how much he was spending on his shopping.”

Miliband “lacks immediate appeal to the electorate” the Eurosceptic MP claimed, and condemned problems with "both the presentation of our policies and the organisation of the campaign".

Another senior MP told the newspaper members of the shadow cabinet were “dismayed” by his failure to brand Farage a racist over his controversial comments on immigration, accusing the Labour leader of "squeamishness" in talking about the subject. The source was quoted as saying: “Challenging Ukip got lost in the froth and I'm baffled at the failure to condemn what Farage was saying.”

Former minister David Lammy said the party should have done better in places such as Swindon, conceding that voters were "swallowing" Ukip's message on immigration and Europe.

Mr Lammy told Sky News: “There's no doubt about it, Ukip are biting into parts of Labour's working-class vote.”

But Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander insisted Labour could win the general election based on the results coming in overnight from key battleground seats.

He told BBC Breakfast: "We are very far from complacent. We recognise the alienation and the anger that has found expression in a lot of people voting for Ukip last night but we still believe that we are well placed if we do the right things and we take the right steps in the coming 12 months to win that general election."