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Polls wipeout for Labour

PUBLISHED: 15:46 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:45 23 August 2010

LABOUR in north Kent lost all but one of its seats on the county council after a disastrous night for the party in both the local and European elections. Labour, which previously held seven of the 14 seats across Gravesham, Dartford and part of Sevenoaks

LABOUR in north Kent lost all but one of its seats on the county council after a disastrous night for the party in both the local and European elections.

Labour, which previously held seven of the 14 seats across Gravesham, Dartford and part of Sevenoaks District, now has only one seat, in Northfleet and Gravesend West Division.

It was also beaten into fifth place in the European elections - the results were announced on Sunday - winning one seat in the South-east region.

The polls disaster came just hours after Prime Minister Gordon Brown was forced to reshuffle his cabinet in a bid to cling onto power.

The results mean that Labour is not the main opposition party on Kent County Council. Of the 84 seats available across Kent, Leslie Christie is one of only two remaining Labour councillors, compared to 74 Conservatives, seven Liberal Democrats and one Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association member, who took the seat from Labour.

County council leader Paul Carter said: "These results have exceeded everyone's expectations. When I asked members of my own party what the results would be before the election, no one predicted this.

"Obviously, there is an extent to which this reflects on the national political picture and that has had a major impact but I think people did look at our record and what we have done."

Avtar Sandhu, who won the Dartford North East seat, became the first British Asian Conservative elected in Dartford.

Chris Shippam, chairman of Dartford Conservative Association, said: "This result is the first time the Conservatives, or anyone else, has ever come close to winning in one of Labour's heartlands, not only in Dartford but also in Kent,

"It is a testament to his tireless efforts."

In the European elections, Labour in the South-east saw its share of the vote slump by five per cent compared to the last election in 2004.

The party came behind the Conservatives in first place, UKIP in second, Liberal Democrats in third and the Green Party in fourth.

Despite the drop in the Labour vote, there was no change in the make-up of the MEPs in the region, with the Conservatives having four, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP with two each, and Labour and the Green Party with one each.

Leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, one of the MEPs re-elected in the South-east, said: "This strong result, an improvement on 2004, confirms we are a serious force on the UK political scene.

"To beat the UK's governing party into third place in these Euro elections is not only humiliating to Gordon Brown, it is confirmation of what UKIP has been saying all along: the British people are unhappy with their relationship to Europe."

A by-election in the Painters Ash ward of Gravesham Borough Council was won by Labour's Les Howes.

Results for Gravesham:

Gravesham Rural Division

Michael Victor Snelling (Con) 4,109

Gravesham East

John Martin Cubitt (Con) 3,713

Bryan John Sweetland (Con) 3,343

Northfleet and Gravesend West

Leslie Christie (Lab) 3,317

Harold John Craske (Con) 3,174

European Elections

Conservatives: 812,288 votes, 4 MEPs

UKIP: 440,002 votes, 2 MEPs

Lib Dems: 330,340, 2 MEPs

Green Party: 271,506, 1 MEP

Labour: 192,592, 1 MEP

Those elected were: Conservative: Dan Hannan, Richard Ashworth, Nirj Deva, James Elles. UKIP: Nigel Farage, Martea Anderson.

Lib Dems: Catherine Bearder, Sharon Bowles.

Green: Caroline Lucas. Labour: Peter Skinner.

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