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UKIP gain ground following local elections

UKIP and Labour have been the major winners so far following yesterday’s local elections, but the full political picture will not be clear until early next week.

Most results in the 161 English councils that were being contested are still to come, but 63 councils have declared showing that Labour has gained 102 seats, while UKIP has picked up 89. The coalition partners, however, have suffered major set-backs with the Lib Dems losing 99 seats and the Conservative 97, so far.

Already, following the early results, several Tory councils in the south of the country, including Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point and Southend, have gone to no overall control because of the UKIP vote.

UKIP, which is also expected to fare well in the European elections (with the results due on Sunday), does seem to becoming the ‘fourth’ political force in the country as it has made gains in the south and north. For instance, in Yorkshire, the party has made major gains on Rotherham council, even though Labour has retained control. UKIP won 10 of the 21 seats up for election, taking seven from Labour, two from the Conservatives and held a seat it won in a by-election last year.

Nigel Farage, the party leader, said: “There are areas of the country where now we have got an imprint in local government. Under the first-past-the-post system we are serious players.”

Labour also has reasons to be pleased with gains including the flagship Tory council Hammersmith and Fulham. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, Labour's election strategist, told the BBC that the results reflected an “anger and alienation” among the electorate, saying “politics as usual is not an adequate response”.

In addition to the local council elections, Mayoral elections took place in four London boroughs and Watford. And in Northern Ireland, voters were electing 462 representatives to 11 "super districts" following a reorganisation that took place in 2012, reducing the number of councils from 26 previously.

(Image: Gareth Fuller / PA Wire)

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