Labour now control Plymouth City Council. They have 31 councillors to 26 for the Conservatives. UKIP don't have any. But they may have been crucial in securing Labour's victory. Looking at the results I noticed three wards where UKIP's vote was bigger than Labour's majority over the Conservatives – Budshead, Eggbuckland and Stoke.
I suspect that when the detailed results become available for other councils Labour has gained – such as Thurrock – we will find other examples of where a UKIP intervention has flattered Labour's results.
It is no use dismissing UKIP as irrelevant, or the same as the BNP or swivel eyed. They represent a serious threat of splitting off significant numbers of Conservative voters and giving Labour a huge electoral dividend. This is a matter that needs to be addressed seriously. The Conservatives need to point out this consequence but also review why it is that so many of those with Conservative values are not willing to vote for the Conservative Party but instead to throw away their vote on a protest.
UKIP may only have a handful of councillors elected but last night they offered a warning of the crucial contribution they could make to the election of a Labour Government. It is a warning that should not be ignored.