London Guardian 
Dec 1, 2012
The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, has claimed that his party has now displaced the Liberal Democrats as the “third force” in British politics after it performed strongly in three byelections.
In the party’s strongest showing in a Westminster byelection, Ukip secured 21.79% of the vote in Rotherham, claiming second place behind Labour, which won with 46.25%. The Lib Dems trailed in eighth place on 2.11%.
Labour scored a hat-trick of comfortable victories in the three byelections held in its safe seats of Rotherham, Middlesbrough and Croydon North.
Sarah Champion won with 9,866 votes in Rotherham, though Labour’s overall vote increased by just 1.62%. Labour’s failure to build significantly on its support may have been due to anger over the resignation of the previous Labour MP, Denis MacShane, after a Commons committee censured him over his expenses.
Andy McDonald won for Labour in Middlesbrough with 10,201 votes, an increase of 14.6 points. In Croydon North, Labour’s vote increased by 8.69 points as Steve Reed won with 15,898 votes.