Nigel Farage: UKIP to be serious players at general election
BBC News coverage following voting across the UK
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his party will be "serious players" at the 2015 general election after it made gains in council polls across England.
Mr Farage said the "UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen house" after it gained more than 150 council seats.
The BBC's projected national share of the vote suggests UKIP would have scored 17% in a Britain-wide election.
Labour would have got 31% of the vote, ahead of Conservatives on 29% with the Liberal Democrats on 13%.
UKIP's projected national share figure is lower than the 23% it got in council elections last year and despite its gains, UKIP does not yet control any local authorities.
UKIP will choose target areas and "throw the kitchen sink at them".
Elections expert Professor John Curtice said UKIP's lower vote share this year reflected its weak performance in London but remained "remarkably good".
Labour would be "disappointed" to be only two points ahead of the Conservatives, he added, a lead down from 4% last year and 7% in 2012.
The Conservatives could be pleased with an increase from 25% share last year, but remained down on the 31% of 2012, Prof Curtice said, adding that the Lib Dems were showing little sign of recovery, with their share down 1% on last year's record low.
Jeremy Vine shows how the projected national share of the vote has changed over the past decade
- With 151 of 161 councils declared, Labour has gained 288 seats, UKIP has gained 155 seats, the Lib Dems have lost 283 and the Conservatives have lost 198
- Seven Conservative councils in the south of England have gone to no overall control, some following UKIP gains.
- Labour has gained [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] from the Conservatives, and the Conservatives have gained [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] from the Lib Dems.
- [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] - and the party has also increased its share of the vote in the north.
- But it has fared worse in London, losing four councillors in Hounslow
- [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] lost all their remaining nine seats on Manchester Council
- Turnout looks set to be about 36%
- You can follow full coverage with all the latest updates at[Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
The surge in support for UKIP has sent shockwaves through the main parties at Westminster, with just a year to go before the next general election.
Mr Farage, whose party only had two councillors when these seats were contested in 2010, said: "There are areas of the country where we have now got an imprint in local government. Under the first-past-the-post system we are serious players."
Prime Minister David Cameron sought to quell speculation of a possible Conservative-UKIP alliance, saying that his party could achieve an overall majority in 2015 by itself.
"We are the Conservative Party. We don't do pacts and deals. We'll be fighting all out for a win at the next election," he said.
He hailed his party's successes in Birmingham, Swindon and Tamworth, but conceded: "We did lose some councillors and some good councils - that does happen when you're running the government. I'm sorry for those who have lost their seats."
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