03/05/2013 06:24 BST

Local Elections 2013: Tim Farron Admits Result 'Shocking' For Lib Dems

Getty Images
LONDON - MARCH 05: Liberal Democrat MP for West Morland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron speaks to media on March 5, 2008 in London, England. A number of Liberal Democrat Leaders are preparing to defy the order to abstain in the vote on whether there should be a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Securing just 155 more votes that the Monster Raving Loony party and 359 votes less than the BNP is a sign things have not gone well.

The Lib Dems came a distant seventh in Thursday's South Shields by-election, a result the party's president Tim Farron has admitted was "shocking".

In 2010 the Lib Dem candidate came third behind Labour and the Tories with 5,189 votes - 14.2% of the vote. Yesterday the Lib Dems won just 352 - 1.4% of the vote.

However Farron told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the thumping did not mean the party was having a national meltdown - as the northern South Shields seat was never within its reach.

"The Westminster battlegrounds are where it is at and for the Lib Dems, South Shields is one extreme where we have got little strength on the ground and have been obliterated, and then you look at other places like Cheltenham, Taunton, Eastbourne, hopefully west London, places like West Dorset where we have got to win at the next election where we are doing extremely well," he said.

Farron added: "Most of our battles are against the Tories and against the Tories we are doing very well."

South Shields, the seat vacated by former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, was held by Labour. Ukip came a strong second and the Conservatives came third.

Somewhat more perplexingly, former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown said of the result: "It's not the end; it's not the beginning of the end. But it might be the end of the beginning of the fight back."

SEE ALSO: Nigel Farage Hails 'Remarkable' Local Election Gains