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UKIP victory 'is no protest vote'

Dudley | News | Published:

The UK Independence Party declared its victory was 'not a protest vote' as it won three out of seven seats in the European Parliament representing the West Midlands.

The Liberal Democrats lost their only West Midlands seat in the Brussels parliament while Labour doubled its MEPs.

Former UKIP MEPs Mike Nattrass and Nikki Sinclaire, who both formed breakaway Eurosceptic groups, also lost their seats after failing to get more than 27,171 votes and 23,426 votes respectively.

Newly elected MEP Jill Seymour, aged aged 56, declared that voters were 'fed up' of the 'same old rhetoric and spin' as she celebrated with supporters and her husband Brian, aged 77.

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Mrs Seymour was until the election a UKIP member on Kynnersley Parish Council. She became its chairman in May last year and is secretary of Telford and Wrekin Branch.

In her victory speech at the International Convention Centre shortly after midnight she said: "The message of the Lib Lab Con has been wrong for years. It's wrong in the future. They can't grasp that it's the people they must serve, not their European Union masters."

Her fellow new MEP James Carver, aged 44, makes umbrellas for a living at his home in Gloucestershire. He has been with UKIP since 1996 having joined because he had become 'frustrated' with politicians over the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union and paved the way for the Euro single currency.

He said: "What we've achieved in council elections is a great starting place.

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"We're going to have some really good councillors and that's exciting.

"This is how the Liberal Democrats did it originally.

"This is the start of our challenge for Westminster in 2015.

"In Brussels we are going to be speaking for people who want to get out of the EU.

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"We will continue to campaign for that."

Turnout across the West Midlands was 33.31 per cent with 1,367,443 voting out of 4,105,305 people eligible.

The third UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge, aged 44, has finally broken through to win an election this week, having taken a seat on Dudley Council, taking his home town of Sedgley from Tory Tina Westwood.

Mr Etheridge had already stood as UKIP's candidate to be the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012 but came fourth behind Labour, the Tories and an independent candidate.

He had previously been a member of the Conservatives but resigned in 2011 when he and his wife Star, now UKIP's spokesman on disabilities and since Thursday a councillor for Coseley East, posed in photographs with golliwog dolls as part of their role with the Campaign Against Political Correctness, something Mr Etheridge has remained involved with since joining UKIP.

This morning Mr Etheridge declared: "The future's bright, the future's purple."

And he said he would continue to serve as a councillor, despite his new job in Brussels.

Mrs Seymour's husband runs Telford based Seymour Manufacturing and last year the couple funded a rally at Telford International Centre attended by up to 900 people. It was billed at the time as UKIP's biggest ever public meeting.

The company makes thermal insulation systems, roll cage covers and pallet covers, thermal covers, bags and boxes, cold room curtains and doors.

More than 650 tickets to see UKIP Leader Nigel Farage speak at Dudley Town Hall were snapped up by supporters.

The event in April was part of a campaign targeting the West Midlands, that has included numerous visits by deputy leader Paul Nuttall to the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Neena Gill, aged 57, was an MEP for Labour from 1999 to 2009 but lost her seat in Brussels in the last election. Since losing her seat Ms Gill has been working in corporate affairs for a software company.

She said: "This election has been one of the most unpredictable. I believe Britain does best when it reaches out to the world."

Second on Labour's list was Sion Simon, the former Erdington MP.

The 45-year-old journalist stood down at the 2010 General Election to campaign for Birmingham to have an elected mayor then run for the position himself. But his plan was halted when Birmingham voters decided against creating the role.

He hit out at UKIP saying: "It's easy to support cynicism. The people who voted Labour are people who will not vote for cynicism."

Lynda Waltho, aged 54, was third on Labour's list. She was MP for Stourbridge from 2005 to 2010 but did not manage to win a place in Brussels.

Tory MEP Philip Bradbourn, aged 62, has held his seat in Brussels since 1999. A former adviser to the Conservative opposition on Wolverhampton City Council, he also contested the Wolverhampton South East seat in 1992.

He appealed for people who voted UKIP to come back to the Tories next year.

"The only way forward is for people who lent their vote to UKIP to consider who can deliver a referendum. Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not. UKIP cannot."

Anthea McIntyre, aged 59, was not elected in the 2009 poll but got her seat after officials within the European Parliament decided the West Midlands should have another seat. Ms McIntyre was chosen because the Tories' share of the vote five years ago meant they would have gained an extra seat had one been available and Ms McIntyre was next on the list. She has campaigned on the need for MEPs to cut 'burdensome' bureaucracy that discourages businesses from taking on new staff.

Former Lichfield district councillor Phil Bennion, aged 59, became an MEP in 2012 when the serving MEP Liz Lynne retired. Mr Bennion replaced her because he was second on the Lib Dem list in 2009.

The farmer, who advised former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy on agricultural matters, was hoping to prove predictions that the party was facing wipeout last night wrong.

But he, along with all but one Lib Dem MEP in the country, was sent packing.

He said: "The local elections showed there was a strong UKIP vote.

"I'm not one of those calling for Nick Clegg to resign. He's very resilient. He doesn't get down very often, despite the battering from certain sections of the Press in recent years.

"I've been standing up for British interests, making sure proposed legislation is amended appropriately.

"What's happened in this election is we now have people who will give us less of a voice, not more."

Nikki Sinclaire, aged 46, also lost her seat.

She was originally elected an MEP with UKIP in 2009. But she was expelled from the party the following year because of her protest at its partnership with the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group of MEPs from other countries, saying the group had extreme right wing views.

She also won an employment tribunal claim for sex discrimination against UKIP, which did not lodge a defence.

Miss Sinclaire subsequently campaigned for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, gathering 100,000 signatures and forcing the UK Parliament to debate the matter in 2011. She was standing for re-election with a new party she set up, called We Demand a Referendum Now.

Miss Sinclaire said: "My employers have spoken, and it would seem I have been unsuccessful in my attempt to be re-elected as an MEP for the West Midlands region.

"As a democrat, I of course accept their decision.

"My supporters will be disappointed, and naturally I am too.

"It has been an honour and a pleasure to represent 5.2 million constituents over the past five years. I have met thousands of people in my role, getting involved in community projects and giving a voice to the voiceless, and lending an ear when others simply wouldn't listen.

"I'm also proud of the campaign we ran here in the West Midlands, far larger than anybody had ever seen before, and many thanks to those who spent time talking to me and the team on the campaign trail.

"More importantly, thank you to everybody who took the time to vote for me on Thursday and for those who have stood by me.

"As a conviction politician, I gave it my all and did the best I could. If you liked me or not, I stuck by my beliefs and gave an independent voice in a sea of party politics.

"I will always be proud that it was our campaign that re-ignited the referendum debate and brought the Prime Minister to the despatch box.

"I am also proud of 20 years of effort, campaigning for independence from the EU, which is now mainstream opinion.

"I'd like to congratulate the successful candidates this evening and hope that they truly stand up for our region, and keep their promises to the people."

And Mike Nattrass, aged 68, was the other West Midlands UKIP MEP first elected in 2004 and again in 2009. The former chartered accountant had been one of his party's leading lights, even serving as deputy leader from 2002 to 2006,

Having initially announced his retirement he changed his mind in 2013, only to find himself failing a UKIP candidate test and being de-selected. He took the party to court to try to overturn the decision and failed so set up his own Eurosceptic party, called An Independence from Europe.

The move angered Nigel Farage because Mr Nattrass's group appeared at the top of the alphabetically organised ballot papers and he also used the slogan UK Independence Now, leading some within UKIP to fear he would take votes by accident.

Mr Nattrass shares the same opposition to HS2 and membership of the EU that UKIP does but says his group is more 'to the left' than Mr Farage's party.

Mr Nattrass said: "Nigel Farage is pathetic.

"I had so many people asking me if I was UKIP and when I said no they said 'good, we don't want to vote for Mr Farage'.

"We're not UKIP. We don't believe in privatisation of the NHS. UKIP lost six MEPs and two stood down at the election.

"The mainstream parties did not believe that the public would rise up as they have done and booted them up the backside."

  • See also: UKIP cleans up in European election

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