Europe issue deprived Conservatives of 27 seats
The untold story of the election was the absurdly disproportionate impact of the UK Independence Party. Although their vote may have looked derisory, in no fewer than 26 seats where the Tories narrowly lost, including Harlow yesterday, the Ukip vote was greater than the winner's majority.
If most of those votes had gone to the Tories (a fair assumption) they would thus have won 26 more seats, Labour 17 fewer, the Lib Dems nine fewer. This would have wiped out most of the Lib Dems' 11 net gains, giving them only two seats more than in 2001. Mr Blair's majority would have been cut to a mere 32.
Ukip's net effect may thus have been not only to cost the Tories a swathe of seats such as Battersea, Hove, Torbay and Westmoreland, but to deprive the Commons of strongly Eurosceptic MPs, while assisting the return of Europhiles. In Eastleigh, for instance, Ukip kept out the Eurosceptic Conor Burns, ensuring that it was held for the Lib Dems by Chris Huhne, a rabidly Europhile former Euro-MP.
An unresolved riddle of the 2005 election must therefore be what might have been the result of Michael Howard taking a more robustly intelligent line on the "European" issue, rather than stuffing it away out of sight. If the Tories hope to win next time, this is one of the first lessons they must ponder.
Dr Julian LewisHon Nicholas SoamesDr Liam FoxMichael FabricantSir Michael SpicerAshley GrayCaroline Flynn-MacleodPaul MaynardDavid AmessCllr Kim HumphreysRt Hon Oliver LetwinJacqui LaitIan Taylor MBEJames PaiceRt Hon Stephen DorrellJohn MaplesDouglas CarswellRt Hon Kenneth Clarke QCRt Hon David CurryAngela BrowningWilliam CashRt Hon David Heathcoat-AmoryLaurence RobertsonRt Hon Michael Howard QCEdward LeighRobert WalterQuentin DaviesRt Hon Francis MaudeOwen PatersonJohn BercowTim CollinsPeter LuffTony BaldryAndrew RobathanSir John ButterfillPeter BottomleyRt Hon John GummerGeoffrey Cox QCAnthony SteenChristopher ChopeScott-HaywoodPeter Atkinson
Doug HendersonJoan WalleyRt Hon Robin CookValerie DaveyBarbara FollettAustin MitchellMike GapesKeith VazBarry SheermanRt Hon Peter Hain
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