Nigel Farage poses for photographs near Biggin Hill, south of London, before voting in the local and European elections. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ukip surge shakes the three main parties

The party has gained 82 seats in the local elections, but Labour is making dramatic progress in London.

The early story of the local elections, with 52 of 161 councils declared, is the most remarkable surge yet by Ukip. From a standing start in some areas, it has taken dozens of seats off the Tories and Labour and hugely increased its vote share.

In Rotherham, the party gained nine seats, defeating Labour's leader and deputy leader and becoming the official opposition. In Thurrock, a key Labour general election target, it gained five and deprived Labour of overall control. If anyone was in doubt that Ukip is now a problem for Ed Miliband as well as David Cameron, this morning's results have served as dramatic confirmation.

Elsewhere, the party gained 11 seats in Basildon, depriving the Tories of overall control and achieving the same feat in Castle Point and Southend. Three Conservative MPs - Douglas Carswell, Peter Bone and Jacob Rees-Mogg have responded by renewing their call for an electoral pact with Ukip and have been swiftly slapped down by Grant Shapps.

Nor have the Lib Dems been spared. They lost control of Portsmouth council after Ukip won six seats, including that held by Mike Hancock. In total, the Farageists have gained 82 seats. As Labour is emphasising, we have entered a new era of four-party politics.

But in London, a strikingly different picture is emerging. While polling in excess of 25 per cent outside of the capital, Ukip is struggling to exceed 10 per cent inside of it - and Labour is making dramatic gains. The party has just won control of the Conservative fortresss of Hammersmith and Fulham (known as "David Cameron's favourite council") having earlier gained Merton. Redbridge and Croydon are also expected to fall to Labour this morning.

After a grim start to the evening for the party, with Graham Stringer declaring that Miliband lacks "an immediate appeal to the electorate" and describing his error over his shopping bill as "unforgivably unprofessional", Labour spirits are starting to lift. Alongside the gains in London, where a radical and energetic campaign led by Sadiq Khan is paying dividends, the party has just gained Cambridge, a key general election target. If this trend continues, it will be in a position to claim it has taken steps forward to victory next year.

As for Ukip, even before the European election results are announced, Westminster is already feeling the force of Farage's "earthquake".

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Britain's largest communications union to affiliate to Momentum

The CWU, one of Corbyn's earliest backers, will formally affliate to the organisation.

One of Labour’s largest trade unions is set to affiliate to Momentum after the ruling executive of the Communications Workers Union voted unanimously to join the organisation.

The CWU, Britain’s largest communications union and the fifth largest affiliate to Labour, was one of the earliest backers of Jeremy Corbyn. 

Dave Ward, the union’s general secretary, told the New Statesman that “the general election showed the value of Momentum as part of the wider labour movement”, and that the body, which emerged out of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign, was now “a major political force in the UK”, saying it had a  “key role to play in securing a transformative Labour government”.

The NEC’s vote will now go to a ratifying vote by the CWU’s annual conference. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.