Labour has comfortably won the Oldham West and Royton by-election with a smaller majority but increased vote share. The result is a victory for Jeremy Corbyn's first electoral test as leader of the party and has dashed Ukip's hopes of another parliamentary seat.

Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon secured a 10,835-strong majority, a 62 per cent vote share on a 40 per cent turnout, which is higher than at the general election, even though there were predictions just a week before the vote that the Ukip candidate standing for the seat, John Bickley, could win.

The Conservative Party came in third, with its share of the vote down by almost 10 per cent.

Jim McMahon

Ukip's excuse for such a poor performance in the north-west seat, which has higher levels of support for the party than most of the rest of the country, is that the election had been "bent".

Party leader Nigel Farage said that the result was "perverse" and suggested that the postal vote had been rigged.

Deputy party leader and North West MEP Paul Nuttall also claimed postal voting had "distorted" the result.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Farage said there were claims that people had turned up at polling stations with big bundles of postal votes, and the area's "big ethnic changes" of people voting Labour were to blame for Ukip's defeat.

They can't speak English. They've never heard of UKIP or the Conservative Party. They've never even heard of Jeremy Corbyn...

It means effectively - in some of these seats where people don't speak English, but they're signed up to postal votes - effectively the electoral process is now dead.

The byelection was triggered by the death of long-standing Labour MP Michael Meacher.

Corbyn called the result a "vote of confidence" in the Labour party and is expected to visit Oldham to congratulate McMahon later today.

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