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Tory vote faces UKIP threat

12:30 17 June 2014

Archant

MP Hugo Swire is unlikely to lose his seat to UKIP in next year’s general election - despite the Tories coming second in East Devon in last month’s Euro vote.

But Mr Swire, East Devon’s MP since 2001, could have a fight on his hands, and see his 9,000 majority slashed by the Euro-sceptic party.

UKIP topped the East Devon poll with 14,475 votes, with the Tories garnering 13,647, followed by Labour, the Green Party and the Lib Dems.

It was the first European, district or general election vote in East Devon since 1999 that the Tories have not come out on top.

UKIP county councillor John Hone said: “We had a lot of voters who have conservative leanings, and next year I would expect some of them to return to the conservatives, but not all of them.

“But I think we have a good chance of supplanting the Lib Dem’s second place and we will reduce Hugo Swire’s majority.”

But a strong showing in the Euro poll does not necessarily translate into votes in a Westminster poll or a local vote.

Tory district councillor and cabinet member Phil Twiss said: “There has been a lot of surprise with the Euro result – not necessarily that UKIP came first but that the Greens did better than the Lib Dems.

“A lot of people voted away from the mainstream parties just to make a point.

“I can’t remember the last time we had local elections at the same time as a general election.”

He said that nationally he expected the Tories to come out on top, but it may not necessarily be the case at town and district council level.

He added: “There are some very good candidates from other parties.

“Nationally the conservatives are very tribal but it doesn’t always follow locally.

“Often people vote for the person and what they have done for the community.”

But the Lib Dems could lose their position as number two party in the region, and a resurgent Labour Party aim to capitalise on that.

Labour’s East Devon agent Ray Davison said: “We are very buoyant at the moment and we have got a good candidate and a year to build on.

“The Lib Dem vote is up for grabs.”

Next year, for the first time ever, a general election and an East Devon District Council election is on the same day, May 7, 2015.

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