It may have been a triumphant night for the UK Independence Party (Ukip) on Thursday, but the Liberal Democrats plunged to new depths as they fell to eighth place in the Rotherham by-election.

The party finished behind Labour, Ukip, Respect, the BNP, the Conservatives, English Democrats and an independent candidate in Rotherham with only 2% of the vote on Thursday night, a drop of from close to 16% in 2010.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, former MP and polling expert Rob Hayward said the party "the worst single performance by a major party in any by election on record."

The party lost out due to "minor parties and disinterest", Hayward said, reflecting the "growing anti establishment mood of the electorate".

lib dem results

The Lib Dems languished in eighth position in Rotherham, their worst ever result

Hayward's views reflect those of psephologist and academic Professor John Curtice, who told the Huffington Post UK on Thursday that the results show that "the sad nature of their plight is becoming clear".

Professor Curtice said the Lib Dems will have a "very difficult" path to recovery in time for the 2015 elections, with the by-election "underlining the problems the Liberal Democrats face".

Professor Curtice added that the Liberal Democrats lost out as they are the traditional protest vote - but finding themselves in an unpopular coalition government has hurt their popularity.

The party placed fourth and third in the other by-elections held on Thursday, earning a mere 5% of votes cast in the three by-elections.

Loading Slideshow...