Protest votes speak volumes for Bercow

Although Ukip's Nigel Farage remained in hospital after the light-aircraft crash that almost killed him on polling day, scenes at the Buckingham count, where he stood for Parliament, remained decidedly colourful.

The incumbent, John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, temporarily shook off the allusions to giant dolphin "Flipper" that had dogged him throughout the campaign in an attempt to highlight his administrative dexterity when it came to second-home delegation.

In the event, Mr Bercow's 22,860 votes comfortably saw off Mr Farage, who finished third with 8,410. Second place went to John Stevens, of The Buckinghamshire Campaign for Democracy, standing in protest at Mr Bercow's expenses claims and the convention that the other major parties offer no candidate to contest the Speaker's seat.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Bercow acknowledged the anger of his constituents, made plain by the high number of spoilt ballot papers, and pledged to report their concerns to the Commons, but refused to be drawn on how his role might be affected by a hung parliament.

He paid tribute to his "not exactly identikit political wife" Sally, who lost her bid to become a Labour councillor in Westminster's St James's ward.

A Ukip spokesman confirmed Mr Farage had recovered sufficiently from his chipped spine, broken ribs and damaged sternum to ask for a gin and tonic.

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