Michael Thrasher says UKIP’s breakthrough has amazed the most seasoned election analysts – and will have the main parties worried – 3rd May 2013.

UKIP’s surge in the local elections has sent shock waves through all three of the main parties.

It also caught out commentators (including myself) with its scale.

Few believed that a party could field candidates and from a standing start capture a quarter of the votes.

A ComRes poll taken during the last week of campaigning that placed the party above 20% was considered “optimistic”.

We also believed that while support for UKIP would rise, it would be unlikely that it could buck the first past the post voting system and capture seats.

So, UKIP 2, pundits 0.

In other respects forecasts of seat gains and losses for the major parties were accurate.

Each of the coalition partners was vulnerable and both duly lost ground.

The Conservatives were trying to defend their high point of four years ago and lost more than 300 seats and critically, majority control of seven counties.

The Liberal Democrats lost a quarter of their seats – not quite the disaster of recent years but another serious erosion of its local government base.

Labour can legitimately claim that it is one of the winners of these elections. It has gained around 250 seats, close to its own pre-election forecast.

But parties are notorious for setting low benchmarks when the voters are drifting back and privately the party would have wanted to make many more gains than this…click here to continue reading original article