On a roll: Even defeated Ukip candidates remain upbeat

Eight out of ten voters are "suitable for Ukip", a defeated county chairman has claimed.

David Platt, who heads the party in Hertfordshire where Ukip took over 44,000 votes last week, said the broad appeal of Ukip's policies meant they were attractive to the majority of the electorate.

"I personally think there was an open gap for a party like Ukip to come in," he said.

"I do find a lot of people that haven't voted for or don't normally vote have voted for us. There's a feeling these people out there who naturally drift from one party or another now have an actual home."

Platt took 38% of the vote in his division but came second to the local Conservative candidate, losing by 87 votes.

There are no Ukip councillors in Hertfordshire but the party achieved 35 second places and beat Labour in 40, suggesting even in places where they did not win seats they are establishing a national presence.

"You can walk down the high street and you can pick eight out of ten people who are suitable for Ukip," Platt added.

"The point is they need to know that, they need the information to make them understand what Ukip is about. They only see national headlines, which do portray us in a different way."

Even deputy prime minister Nick Clegg acknowledged Ukip has arrived as a major force on the national political scene, telling LBC that his "whole political life" had been based around "challenging the suffocating duopoly" of Labour and the Tories on the UK political system.

"I can't complain, however much I disagree with Nigel Farage and everything he stands for, if he wants to join the push to make politics more open and more plural and give people more choice," the Liberal Democrat leader said.

Ukip won 143 councillors across England on May 2nd and took 23% of the national projected vote share, prompting a Queen's Speech dominated by the immigration bill and intense pressure on David Cameron for legislation on an EU referendum.

"They've done it all along," Plat said. "Every time Ukip makes progress somewhere, they try to come out with something that will counter what we do. They would either ignore us, a few insults and that would be enough.

"But now people have seen through a lot of that and they're coming over Ukip. I don't think the Conservatives actually know what to do."

Conservative Robert Bliss, the outgoing leader of Shepway district council who lost his seat last week, blamed national rather than local issues for the setback.

"I think what really affected the vote was same-sex marriage and the EU referendum," he told the Folkestone Herald.

"Ukip is the fashionable party to go to to object, but soon they'll be in the past and 2015 should be a completely different kettle of fish."