Britain's ruling Conservative Party candidate Christine
Emmett (left) congratulates UKIP candidate Margot Parker
after the by-election count in Corby, central England.
Britain's ruling Conservative Party suffered a double
blow on Friday when it lost a key parliamentary seat to the
resurgent opposition Labour party and the eurosceptic UKIP
party recorded its best ever performance in a by-election.
The constituency is the first the Conservatives have had to
defend since coming to power at the head of coalition
government in 2010 and is a bellwether of UK politics whose
voters have backed the winning party in every general
election since 1983.
Britain's political parties are already gearing up for the
next national election in 2015, and two likely important
themes - ties with Europe and the economy - featured
prominently as reasons voters in Corby gave for rejecting the
Ominously for Prime Minister David Cameron's centre-right
Conservatives, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which has
wooed rightists with its promise to yank Britain out of the
European Union, had its strongest showing in any local poll
since the party was founded in 1993.
"It's a terrific result... It's our best ever by-election
result," said UKIP candidate Margot Parker.
"It's a massive protest. They (the voters) are not happy ...
they're listening to us and we're listening to them. We'll
keep taking Conservative vote, and Labour votes as well," she
The Labour candidate polled 17,267 votes to the
Conservatives' 9,476, taking just under half the votes cast
and overturning the Conservatives' slim 2010 majority of
1,951. UKIP came third with 5,108 votes.
The Conservatives' governing coalition partners, the Liberal
Democrats, came fourth and suffered the humiliation of losing
their 500 pound ($800) deposit for not managing to win five
percent of the vote.
Labour victor Andy Sawford said the result marked a turning
point in his party's fortunes, as it won its first
by-election in a Conservative-held seat for 15 years.
"Since this constituency existed, no party has formed a
government without winning here. The road to Downing Street
runs through Corby," said Labour victor Andy Sawford.
Conservative ministers shrugged off the defeat, suggesting it
had little relevance ahead of full national elections in
"It's a by-election in mid-term. This is what happens to
governments," interior minister Theresa May told Sky News.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the result showed that
voters in "middle England" were returning to his party.
"If I were Mr Cameron I wouldn't just dismiss this result.
People are saying you are not standing up for us ... you are
standing up for the richest and most powerful people in this
country and that is a lesson he should learn," said Miliband.
Labour leads the Conservatives nationally by 10 percentage
points according to a opinion poll by YouGov, conducted on
Wednesday and Thursday.
The constituency of Corby comprises the working class town of
the same name, where unemployment and home repossession are
relatively high, as well as the surrounding, affluent rural
region of east Northamptonshire.
The region is considered a microcosm of the English political
landscape, and election victories there are usually marginal.
The current by-election was triggered by the resignation in
August of Conservative lawmaker and novelist Louise Mensch,
who stood down to spend more time with her family.