Ukip’s presence is felt

Ukip's Wigan candidate Mark Bradley with Bryn hopeful Stephen Jones
Ukip's Wigan candidate Mark Bradley with Bryn hopeful Stephen Jones

ARGUABLY one of the stories of the general election in Wigan was the rise of Ukip.

The amount of the votes for the party increased by almost 700 per cent, from just 4,051 in 2010 to almost 28,000.

Ukip's Makerfield candidate Andrew Collinson

Ukip's Makerfield candidate Andrew Collinson

Of course, crucially, Ukip didn’t win any seats in the general election in the borough, nor did they do so in the locals where they enjoyed a similar vote increase over five years.

But the improvement was enough to give party members hope for the future.

In Wigan, Mark Bradley received 8,818 votes with Les Leggett winning 8,903 in Leigh, pushing Ukip up to third place in both constituencies from fourth and fifth respectively.

But the big movement saw Makerfield candidate Andrew Collinson pick up 10.053 votes, firing him into second place behind Yvonne Fovargue.

I ’m heartened by the fact that from nowhere I’ve come second and in that perspective I’m relatively happy

Ukip’s Makerfield candidate Andrew Collinson

However, despite the huge leap considering the party had no representative in the last election, Mr Collinson says he wanted to do even better.

“To be honest I’m disappointed because I wanted to do better,” he said.

“I wanted to deliver for the people of the Makerfield community. I’m heartened by the fact that from nowhere I’ve come second and in that perspective I’m relatively happy.

“I looked at Ukip’s results across the UK and the result in Makerfield is up there amongst the top ones and it wasn’t a target seat. I’m relatively pleased but a little disappointed at the same time.

“We’ve put in a long, hard campaign. I’ve been campaigning in Makerfield since July last year, putting out newsletters, engaging with residents and getting a positive response from them.”

Makerfield’s Conservative candidate Zehra Zaidi was in third place but managed to increase her party’s votes from 8,210 to 8,752.

She said: “The number of our votes has gone up so I’m pleased.

“It’s been an absolute privilege, even as the polls closed, it was just an honour to be able to speak to people.

“Makerfield deserves good representation. In Yvonne they’ve got a hard-working MP, I wish her all the very best.

“But I think we gave a good fight so I was very proud of campaigns where we pushed some issues, whether it was bus closures in Orrell or cleaning up the area around Bryn railway station.

“I want to echo everything Yvonne said, it was genuinely a fair-fought campaign. I wish the people in Makerfield, Wigan and Leigh all the very best.”

In Wigan, Conservative candidate Caroline Kerswell finished in second place behind Lisa Nandy.

However, she saw her party’s vote count drop by 1,500.

She said: “I am delighted with second place, it was tough, I didn’t have long and I’m thankful everyone came out to vote for me. I’m overwhelmed with the support.

“Ukip has put quite a fight up here, as they have across the North West coming second in a lot of places and I’ve been able to overcome that.

“There is definitely considerable support for the Conservative Party in Wigan, it’s not bad for a girl who used to work in a chippy to standing in the general election.”

Elsewhere in Wigan, the Green Party pulled in 2,409 votes across Wigan and Makerfield from a standing start.

The Liberal Democrats endured a significant decrease, reflecting on the parties national performance.

They received an accumulative 4,044 votes across the three constituencies, which was 17,884 less than the 21,928 in 2010.