UKIP has claimed victory this morning after their member Douglas Carswell won the by-election in Clacton, Essex, becoming their first ever elected MP.
The new MP won overwhelmingly with 21,113 votes, defeating his Tory opponent Giles Watling, who received 8,709. Labour came third with 3,959 votes, and the Liberal Democrats lagged behind with an almost pathetic 483.
This was a huge risk taken by Carswell, when he announced in August that he would be defecting from the Conservative Party to UKIP, and would resign his post in order to give voters in his constituency the choice to either sack or back him.
In his acceptance speech Carswell said that if Ukip keeps its momentum and stays true to its principles “there is nothing that we cannot achieve, in Essex, East Anglia, in England and the the whole country beyond- and yes, next in Rochester.”
This is particularly ominous news for the Tories, since in Rochester MP Mark Reckless became the second Tory to defect to UKIP, leading to another potential defeat in another by-election.
Elsewhere Nigel Farage in Heywood and Middleton just narrowly missed the seat, with Labour candidate Liz McGinnis won by just 617 votes, after a recount. She gained 11,633 votes (40.9%) compared to UKIP’s 11,016(38.7). However Labour can glean little comfort from this, since this seat was held with a majority of 5,971 four years ago.