The European Elections: Disgruntled defect to anti-Brussels Sked-ites

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The Independent Online
THE SCALP of the former Tory MEP Christopher Jackson arguably should be hanging from the belt of the United Kingdom Independence Party. Although Mr Jackson lost Kent East to Labour, his defeat probably owes as much to large- scale defection of disgruntled Tories to the fiercely anti-Brussels 'Sked-ites'.

Founded a year ago by the historian, Alan Sked, the UK Independence Party enjoyed some of the fringe-party success which made the Greens the surprise phenomenon of the 1989 European elections.

In many of the 24 seats they contested, the Sked-ites came fourth, displacing the Green Party. But in seats like Kent East the impact on the Tories may have been more significant. Chris Bullen, a former Tory association chairman, got 9,414 votes (4.67 per cent), far more than the 350-vote margin of Mr Jackson's defeat.

Dr Sked was unmoved at the possibility of having let Labour in. 'Oh, my heart bleeds,' he said, adding that his party had drawn supporters from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. 'It is by no means a Tory pressure group in disguise.'

Dr Sked stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Liberals in 1970. Last Thursday, he stood against ill-fated Edwina Currie in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, taking 7,485 votes (3.68 per cent) - just ahead of the Greens. 'People want Britain to run its own affairs and cannot see why Brussels should tell us what to do,' he said, claiming the party had attracted 'thousands and thousands' of members since its election broadcast.

The Greens' share this time was down to 3.24 per cent - 494,561 votes. Jean Lambert, who will chair a meeting of the party's national executive on Sunday, was one of three Greens who saved their pounds 1,000 deposit - taking 6.7 per cent of the vote in London North-east, ahead of the Sked-ites.

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