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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Small parties make Euro strides
George Galloway
Mr Galloway failed to gain a seat
Smaller parties have made big gains so far at this year's European elections at the expense of the major parties.

Apart from the UK Independence Party - which is on course for third place - the Greens held on to their two MEPs and 6% of the vote.

The far right British National Party also made strides, with 788,773 votes - a share of 5.16%.

The BNP beat George Galloway's Respect coalition, but neither gained enough votes to qualify for an MEP.

'Fantastic result'

Both parties will have been hit by the reduction in UK seats up for grabs, caused by EU expansion.

Nick Griffin
BNP leader Nick Griffin also failed to gain a seat
The BNP did notably better in the North and Midlands than it did in London, it also polled higher in regions with all postal ballots.

That gap suggests the party's support is not necessarily the product of low turnouts as sometimes argued.

Meanwhile, the former BBC journalist Martin Bell polled more than 90,000 votes as an independent candidate in the Eastern region, but it was not enough to claim one of the seven MEP seats on offer.

'Waste and fraud'

The veteran anti-sleaze campaigner, famed for his white suits, announced his retirement from politics after the result was announced.

Martin Bell
Mr Bell's last stand?
"It would have been nice to have won but I think we did a lot," he said.

"You can never say never because I am a mere stripling of 65. But I think it is very unlikely I will do this again.

"However I think there is a future for independents in elections."

Mr Bell had campaigned against waste and fraud within the European Union and wanted to change the proportional representation voting system.

Hailing her party's performance, Green MEP Caroline Lucas said: "This is a fantastic result for Green parties and shows that we are here to stay, we are part of the political picture."



Blair's big task
Labour leader needs to reassure his MPs after European election disappointment




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