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European election: Will anyone be able to stop the purple wave as Kent and Medway voters prepare for polls?

With the polls appearing to show rising support among voters for anti-European parties, how will those standing in Kent fare?


What they say: "It is a competitive environment - that’s the nature of politics. But we have a clear programme for a referendum and reform. It is true the protest vote tends to come out in these elections and that is an issue. But our message is absolutely crystal clear about what we will do if we get a mandate at the general election." Richard Ashworth MEP.

Paul's view: The Conservatives' prospects will be undermined by the fact that, traditionally, parties in power tend to suffer most in mid-term elections. With UKIP breathing down its neck, it's hard to see how it can hang on to the four seats won in 2009.

Prediction: Likely to lose two of its four seats.

Conservative South East MEP Richard Ashworth
Conservative South East MEP Richard Ashworth

Liberal Democrats

What they say: "European elections are always a challenge because of protest votes and apathy. But we are the only party to want to engage with the arguments and you can't do that by staying out of the EU. What is different is that there are people who wouldn't have voted but with UKIP now believe they have a place to go to." Catherine Bearder MEP

Paul's view: With the party's poll rating in freefall, this is an election that could see a major meltdown. The party was once the place for protest votes, but being in the coalition has turned that on its head. Making a virtue of being the only party actively campaigning to remain in the EU must be a hard sell on the doorstep.

Prediction: Will do well to hang on to its two seats.

Catherine Bearder - now the Liberal Democrats' only MEP
Catherine Bearder - now the Liberal Democrats' only MEP


What they say: "What we have in the south east is probably one of the best activist bases of anywhere in the country and that makes a big difference. It means we have foot soldiers prepared to knock on doors and deliver leaflets. There is an awful lot of rubbish being thrown at us but the attacks on us have stiffened the resolve of our supporters but I accept it is also possible that it may help other parties." Nigel Farage, UKIP leader and South East MEP

Paul's view: Despite a few wobbles, UKIP seem on course to emerge as the main winners. But having set such high expectations early in the campaign, anything less than a comprehensive rout may be seen as failure. It is a measure of the party's popularity that it is the frontrunner in an election that comes after its county council gains last year.

Paul's prediction: Four seats.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage
UKIP leader Nigel Farage


What they say: "UKIP is voicing concerns that some people have that the Conservatives are not tackling the cost of living crisis we have. We want to see at least one MEP in the south east and possibly two or three and will be fighting for every vote, but we are also laying the foundation for the general election." Ed Balls, shadow Chancellor.

Paul's view: Hard to see the party doing as badly as it did in 2009, at the tail end of Gordon Brown's premiership. But seems to be setting fairly modest ambitions and its lukewarm position on a referendum may cost it some support.

Prediction: Two seats.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on a previous visit to Medway
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on a previous visit to Medway

Green Party

What they say: "The other parties are not coming out with anything positive, which in a way helps us. There are things about the EU that need to improve and we do not believe coming out will help. Getting a second seat is a distinct possibility." Keith Taylor, South East MEP.

Paul's view: It is a long time since the Greens made their historic breakthrough in the European Parliament so gains this time may be optimistic.

Prediction: Will consolidate its position with one seat.

Green Party South East MEP Keith Taylor
Green Party South East MEP Keith Taylor

Fourteen different parties are contesting the EU election in the South East region. In addition to the Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green party, the following are also fielding candidates:

  • An Independence From Europe
  • The BNP
  • Christian Peoples Alliance
  • The Harmony Party
  • Liberty GB
  • The Peace Party
  • The Roman Party
  • Socialist Party of Great Britain
  • YOURvoice
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