Labour celebrated a clean sweep today after holding three seats in parliamentary by-elections in Rotherham, Middlesbrough and Croydon North - dealing another blow to the coalition.
The Middlesbrough and Croydon North by-elections were triggered by the deaths of long-serving Labour MPs Sir Stuart Bell and Malcolm Wicks, and Rotherham's by the resignation of Denis MacShane after he was found to have fiddled his parliamentary expenses.
Rotherham's newly elected Labour MP Sarah Champion secured a comfortable majority of 5,218 on a turnout of 33.6 per cent to become the first female MP for a South Yorkshire seat that has been Labour since 1933.
In Middlesbrough, Labour's Andy McDonald enjoyed a massive 48.7 per cent margin of victory over the UK Independence Party's Richard Elvin, well up on Sir Stuart's 26 per cent lead in 2010.
And Labour's Steve Reed scooped 15,898 votes in Croydon North, a comfortable 47.9 per cent lead on Tory Andy Stranack's 4,137 and well up on the 31.9 per cent enjoyed by Mr Wicks in 2010.
It was a dismal day for the coalition as both parties experienced a massive collapse in support.
The Conservatives slumped to fourth place in Middlesbrough and fifth in Rotherham.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats suffered a woeful eighth place in Rotherham, where candidate Michael Beckett secured just 451 votes to lose his deposit and limp home behind the British National Party, the English Democrats and an independent.
The Lib Dems also lost their deposit in Croydon North where candidate Marisha Ray finished fourth.
In Middlesbrough they held on to third place behind Ukip but there was a collapse in support for both coalition parties, which between them took just 16 per cent of the votes compared with 35 per cent in 2010.
Labour MP Toby Perkins said the results showed Nick Clegg's party is heading for "extinction" unless it leaves the coalition.
But there was alarm as the hard-right Ukip recorded its best ever by-election result in Rotherham and came third in Croydon North.
For Ukip leader Nigel Farage the results marked "big progress" just a fortnight after his party recorded its previous best by-election result of 14.3 per cent in Corby.
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