Stay-away voters paved the way for the march of UKIP in the European parliamentary elections which saw them win a second seat in the East Midlands.
UKIP topped the poll in all seven Lincolnshire districts – beating the Tories by more than 4,000 votes in South Holland.
Nigel Farage’s party topped the East Midlands poll with 368,734, with Roger Helmer and Margaret Parker elected, and the Tories were a distant second with 291,270 votes, with Emma McClarkin and Andrew Lewer elected.
Labour polled 279,363, with Glenis Wilmott elected.
The Lib-Dems had fewer votes than the Green Party – 60,773 against 67,066 – which meant the UK’s longest serving MEP, Lincoln-based Bill Newton-Dunn (72), lost his seat. He was first elected in 1979.
Turnout was under 33 per cent.
Mr Helmer, a former Tory, said after UKIP’s victory that “people are sick to death of professional politicians” and “want to hear from people who talk like human beings who understand their problems”.
But South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and Mr Newton-Dunn say turnout played a big part in the result.
Mr Hayes said: “Obviously it’s a low turnout election and about Europe. It’s dangerous to extrapolate too much from that for those two reasons.”
He says the result sends an “important message about what the electorate are thinking” and that message needs to be listened to and responded to.
“I think we need to do more on immigration and more to convince people that we don’t think the existing relationship with the EU is right,” he said.
Mr Hayes said only 52 per cent of UKIP voters revealed they would vote for UKIP in a general election, but “that doesn’t mean to say we should not listen and respond”.
Mr Newton-Dunn said: “Ninety per cent of the people in the East Midlands didn’t vote UKIP.”
He described UKIP as a movement that declares “we don’t like change”, but says the UK has an ageing population and the UK would not survive without EU citizens coming in “to do some of the work for us”.
If Britain has an in-out EU referendum he will “be bouncing back and campaigning again”.
Other East Midlands results were: An Independence from Europe 21,384, British National Party 18,326, English Democrats 11,612 and Harmony Party 2,194.