THE Tories and UKIP claimed Labour have little to cheer...despite triumphing in the West Thurrock and South Stifford by-election.

Tim Aker, the UKIP candidate for next year's general election and Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price noted that Labour failed to significantly increase their majority even though they drafted in the troops "from London".

Labour's Terry Brookes was victorious in yesterday's by-election, beating second-placed Ukip candidate, Russell Cherry by 283 votes.

He racked up 50 per cent of the vote (903 votes) while UKIP got 34.6 per cent (621 votes) and the Conservatives 15 per cent (270 votes).

But reacting to the victory, opponents noted that Labour failed to win by more votes than it did in May - though its share of the vote did increase.

During the election in May, Labour's candidate Andy Smith - who sadly passed away in August, triggering this by-election - won by 294 votes, claiming 47.1 per cent of the overall vote.

The turnout then stood at 30 per cent, around 6 per cent higher than it was yesterday but Labour hasn't lost in West Thurrock and South Stifford since 2004.

On Thursday, Caroline Flint, the shadow secretary for energy and climate came down to the ward to lend her support to Labour's campaign. This led to criticism that despite ploughing in resources, Labour had "stood still" and not made progress in a traditionally safe seat.

Ms Doyle-Price told the Gazette: "What’s happened tonight is that the result is broadly consistent with what happened in May.

"I’m really pleased our vote held up, particularly when Labour threw everything but the kitchen sink at this election.

"They’ve had armies coming from London to try and get the vote out and all they’ve managed to do is stay still which is poor for their prospects at the next general election."

Given the success of UKIP in the local and European elections in May and in recent parliamentary by-elections such as in Clacton two-weeks-ago, where the party won, it had been expected that yesterday's vote would be closer.

But Mr Aker said: "Labour have made no ground in their heartland, despite us being up against the entire Labour machine. They brought a shadow cabinet minister, they brought everything down here and their votes not gone forward.

"This is Labour’s safest seat and it just shows their vote isn’t improving, that people are coming to UKIP and that we are the change."

However Polly Billington, the Labour candidate in Thurrock for next year's general election told the Gazette that Labour had got it right on the door steps. She said: "What was interesting is when they [Ukip] opened their shop front in Grays, Ukip said they were going to throw everything at this by-election. I think they will be very disappointed with their turn-out and the result.

"What it does show is that if you campaign on the issues that people care about and spend your time being responsive then people will understand that you can help them. That's the big difference between us and our opponents.

"That's why the residents of West Thurrock resoundingly voted for us and rejected our opponents."

She added that while the result was a pleasing one, Labour still has work to do.

Meanwhile, Ms Doyle-Price said she is still confident the Conservatives will win in May - despite Mr Aker insisting: "This result shows the Tories are irrelevant in Thurrock now."