Labour loses out in Europe

LABOUR lost its only South West seat in the European elections - getting fewer votes than the Green party.

LABOUR lost its only South West seat in the European elections - getting fewer votes than the Green party.The number of seats up for grabs was six, down from seven since the 2004 elections because of an expanded European Union.The Conservatives took 30.2 per cent of the vote, down 1.3 per cent, holding three seats and electing Giles Chichester, Julie Girling and Ashley Fox.The UK Independence Party held its two seats with 22.1 per cent of the vote, down 0.5 per cent, electing Trevor Coleman and William Dartmouth.The Liberal Democrats held on to their only seat and re-elected Graham Watson, the leader of the Liberal Grouping in the EU Parliament, with 17.2 per cent, down 1.2 per cent.The Greens were in fourth with 9.3 per cent, up 2.1 per cent, and Labour in fifth with 7.7 per cent, down 6.8 per cent. Labour's Glyn Ford, who has been a Euro MP since 1999, said the expenses issue was partly to blame for him losing his seat. "It's obviously disappointing to lose my seat, for myself, for the Labour Party and for the South West," he said. Mr Chichester also blamed the MPs' expenses issue for a decline in the Conservatives' percentage vote: "Six weeks to two months ago, I hoped that we would be able to be looking at three or four seats in the region. "I wanted a really stunning result for the Conservative Party. "The issue that has overshadowed this election, of MPs' expenses, I think knocked that one on the head." The turnout was marginally up at 39 per cent compared with 37 per cent in 2004.

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