Wythenshawe by-election analysis: Comfort for Farage but has Ukip edged back from its heights?

 

Political Editor

Labour is the only  party with much to celebrate after the by-election in Wythenshawe and Sale East. True, a turnout of just 28 per cent is hardly inspiring, but Ed Miliband’s party had everything to lose and nothing to gain in one of its northern heartlands.

Labour’s  55.3 per cent share of the vote was still less than the party won in the constituency in 1997 and 2001. But there will be relief in Labour circles that the UK Independence Party did not run it closer, which might well have happened if Labour had given Nigel Farage time  to build momentum by allowing a longer campaign.  Labour called the contest quickly following the death of Paul Goggins, its former MP. Labour jitters about Ukip’s ability to chase white working class voters will remain, but  a so-called “Red Ukip” campaign in which the Eurosceptic party promised to protect people’s benefits appeared to cut little ice.

Mr Farage can draw some comfort from winning the race for second place with the Conservatives.  His party won its fourth highest share of the vote  in a  parliamentary by-election. “This confirms the message from the opinion polls that Ukip is still a significant player, but perhaps has still edged back a bit from the heights of last year,” said John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University.

Ukip will fare much better in the European Parliament elections in May, as they are fought under proportional representation. But Wythenshawe is a reminder that Mr Farage may struggle to make a breakthrough in next year’s general election.

Third place was a big disappointment for the Conservatives, who are desperate to win friends in the north,   many parts of which  remain a Tory-free zone.  The only crumb of comfort for David Cameron is that the general election will be decided in marginal constituencies  rather than safe seats like Wythenshawe.

Yesterday’s result was dismal news for the Liberal Democrats, who again lost their deposit. Britain’s third party suffered the biggest ever drop in its  share of the vote in a post-war by-election --down 17.4 points, more than in Manchester Central in 2012 (17.2 points). “This confirms the party is in terrible trouble,” said Professor Curtice.

The Lib Dems will worry that Ukip has supplanted it as the “ protest votes” party now that they are  in government. Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, admitted today that his party had gone from being “none of the above” to “one of the above”.  Nick Clegg may struggle to change that perception by the general election.


Watch David Cameron on the Wythenshawe by-election result

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam