LONG-STANDING Bradford Councillor Michael McCabe is to defect to Ukip today after a decade representing the Tories.

His decision will come as a blow to the Conservative party which has few councillors remaining in the city wards and is being hailed as a triumph for Ukip, which has declared the party is poised to become the main opposition group to Labour.

Cllr McCabe, who represents the Thornton and Allerton ward, will make the announcement officially as Ukip's unveils its election campaign at the Midland Hotel in Bradford tonight.

However, he told the Telegraph & Argus his decision "has been a long time coming".

"Politically, I believe that Ukip is a growing force and is seen as a respected party that gives a genuine alternative option.

"I am looking forwards to it. I have been a councillor for ten years and believe that I can carry on under a different banner if the public of Thornton and Allerton decide they want me," he said.

Cllr McCabe's term in office expires in May and he will stand for his existing seat under the Ukip banner.

Ukip holds one seat on Bradford Council, which was won by Councillor Brian Morris in Keighley West, and the party has previously trumpeted the fact it has recruited Labour activists in the city to join its ranks.

Ukip's Bradford chairman, Jason Smith, said he believed there would be other politicians switching parties in the future.

"We expect in the next two years to have more councillors than the Conservatives and that we will be the main opposition party, rather than the Conservatives.

"This sends a message to Conservative voters not to bother any more with the Tories.

"In the last few months we have had some big activists from Labour join us and we are talking to people from all the major parties.

"We are in conversation with councillors from the Labour and Conservative parties."

Cllr McCabe, who works as a supply teacher, had been attracted to Ukip as a party which connected with 'the man on the street', said Mr Smith.

The Ukip policies on democracy, immigration and opposition to EU membership reflected Mr McCabe's own political outlook, Mr Smith said.

"It was a logical move and something he has been considering for a long time," he said.

"As a councillor he is well respected locally. From that point of view it is a good defection for us, he is not someone who is over the hill. He gets out there and does things."

Bradford was at the centre of a reverse switch last weekend when Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir, a Bradford businessman, switched to the Conservatives amid much controversy.