HEYWOOD -- The UK Independence party (UKIP) eventually surrendered to defeat in a constituency they were only ever predicted to provide a slight challenge for Labour.
Moments after Nigel Farage had conceded defeat in the Heywood and Middleton by-election, UKIP's campaign organisers in Heywood demanded a recount with a margin of around 600 votes between UKIP and Labour.
Labour won by a majority of only 617 votes, with 11,633 votes compared to UKIP's 11,016. The party's previously majority was a little under 6,000.
UKIP's national chairman told BuzzFeed News the party would use the by-election as "a springboard for the general election rather than a balloon that will deflate."
Crowther said a strong second place turnout placed them not only as the main opposition in the local area but would also convince others unsure of UKIP's support to vote for them in the general election in May.
The turnout in the constituency was also much lower than expected, at 36.02%, which led to some fears within the Labour party of a surge from UKIP.
Sources within the party said earlier in the evening that it would see any result of less than 30% of the vote as a "bitter disappointment". Its eventual proportion of the vote, 39% was certainly an impressive result for the party, which four years ago only managed to win 2.6%.
The party believes that their votes are largely coming from previous Labour voters, as BuzzFeed News reported, as well as people who typically don't vote.
"We're getting a lot of votes from people who never voted before," Crowther said. "It's great that these people are taking part in elections. And, of course, we're getting votes from Labour too."
But the Labour MP played this off, instead saying, time and again, that UKIP's support had come from the Tories.
Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Siraj Datoo at email@example.com.
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