UK & World News
Labour Badly Bruised By UKIP In Stronghold
Rotherham: a working man's town steeped in steel-building history and unquestionably a Labour stronghold. Ed Miliband's party accounts for all three local MPs and has controlled the council for eight decades.
And that is still true today. But while Labour might still be standing - it has been badly bruised.
The UKIP wave didn't just reach this northern town - it smashed over it, sweeping in 10 councillors to make Nigel Farage's party the official opposition.
Councillors came from nowhere dislodging Labour's deputy leader and others who said they were too "raw"†to speak about their political loss.
Their gloom was matched by the glee of UKIP activists gathered at a pub by the main square. Clanging together their pints and shouting "cheers" they warned that the old political order had been dismantled for good.
People were fed up of Labour and ready for a change. Their momentum would take them all the way to success in 2015, they claimed.
Certainly on the streets many who voted did not hesitate in boasting of how they had backed UKIP. There was no embarrassment or shame. UKIP felt more mainstream than any fourth party before it. Clearly, this was a protest - but could it last?
The real question is just what has Mr Farage's party tapped into?
It appears to have found an anti-establishment rhetoric that appeals to the left and right alike - pinpointing fears about Europe and immigration that span the political spectrum.
Everyone knew that the UKIP story was bad news for the Conservatives. Now they can see that Mr†Farage's success is similarly painful for Labour and the Lib Dems.
Ed Miliband's party has made gains, but not enough to win cheers a year before a general election.
Instead he, along with the others, has found himself waking up to a new force in British politics - one that they do not have long to respond to.
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