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Published: 08:00, 26 August 2014 |
Updated: 11:17, 27 August 2014
Nigel Farage will contest Thanet South in the forthcoming General Election after winning the Ukip hustings this evening.
Mr Farage used his acceptance speech to rally support for a "Thanet army" of volunteers to spread the party message through the constituency and beyond.
He told the party faithful he would be targeting voters from across the political spectrum, claiming "the idea that all Ukip voters are actually ex-Tories is now baloney."
Mr Farage said: "Someone once said I was David Cameron’s worst nightmare – that’s not good enough, I want to be Ed Milliband’s worst nightmare too."
Perhaps the party leader's boldest claim was that Ukip was the only party capable of reconnecting with "that part of the population who’ve lost all hope, who’ve lost all faith that this political system can work for them and have stopped voting."
He promised Ukip could get people "back to the ballot box."
Mr Farage will be locking horns with former member Craig Mackinlay in the battle to become the next MP for the Thanet seat.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage at the Thanet hustings. Video: Mike Pett
Mr Mackinlay, from Medway, is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate who was active in UKIP for 12 years before re-joining the Conservatives in 2005.
Mr Farage put in a powerful performance that proved a hit with supporters.
He eclipsed a solid but undynamic speech from former Lib-Dem Peter Bucklitsch and a workaday effort from Elizabeth Jones, a family lawyer who joined Ukip in 2010 and contested the West Norwood and Dulwich seat, according to our political editor Paul Francis.
His most significant opposition came from Piers Wauchope, a Tunbridge Wells councillor and Ukip's candidate in the police and crime commissioner elections in Kent in 2012.
Ukip believes it has a strong chance of making an historic parliamentary breakthrough next year and Mr Farage warned people not to discount Ukip holding the balance of power in 2015.
Mr Farage said: "I said three years ago we'd win the European elections. Everybody thought I was stone bonkers and we did it.
"I am telling you today we will win seats in Parliament next year. If we don't I will have failed as leader and I won't be here."
In an unusual step, the local party decided to allow the media in to tonight's hustings meeting.
The party said it wanted to be seen as open and transparent in its selection process, possibly to counter any suggestion that Mr Farage would not face any real opposition.
Earlier this evening Mr Farage hinted he may move to Thanet following his victory, claiming there are three main attractions for him.
He said: "The first reason is I’m a massive sea angler, and it’s all around us here, and I used to be quite a handy golfer. There are a couple of very good golf courses here. Oh and, I forgot to mention, there are some very good pubs."
The Conservatives' current MP Laura Sandys said she would not be standing in 2015 for personal reasons.
Ukip has built up a solid base in Thanet and took seven of the eight county council seats in 2013.
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