Whilst the Conservatives won in the Test Valley, narrowly beating UKIP into second place, in the South East region UKIP took the honours.
Between them, UKIP and the Conservatives took 63% of the vote in the region of the total 2.43 million votes cast. The full result was:
- UKIP 751,439 votes and 4 seats
- Conservative 723,571 votes and 3 seats
- Labour 342,775 votes and 1 seat
- Green 211,706 votes and 1 seat
- Liberal Democrat 187,876 votes and 1 seat
- Richard Ashworth (Con)
- Nirj Deva (Con)
- Dan Hannan (Con)
- Keith Taylor (Grn)
- Anneliese Dodds (Lab)
- Catherine Bearder (LD)
- Janice Atkinson (UKIP)
- Nigel Farage (UKIP)
- Ray Finch (UKIP)
- Diane James (UKIP)
One of the newly elected MEPs was Ray Finch – previously UKIP leader on Hampshire County Council.
The 46year old father of one originally hailed from Liverpool but moved south and currently lives near Havant. In May 2013 he stood and won the Bedhampton and Leigh Park seat at county.
“My first job as MEP has been to step down as UKIP leader on HCC. While I can do my job as councillor and MEP, I felt staying on as leader as well would have taken too much time” said Ray.
He explained that the last few days had been long and exhausting but he couldn’t wait to start his new position as an MEP.
So, what was the plan? To cause disruption, not turn up?
Ray laughed. “Along with my colleagues I will be spending as little time as possible in Brussels and Strasbourg but that’s because I want to use the time attending public meetings back here and reporting on what goes on at the EU“.
“We normally only get to hear what the EU does when the papers report on things like the shape of bananas for if it suits the government to blame them. I and my colleagues want to help change that“.
Ray explained that his dealings with the EU so far lead him to believe that a lot of the legislation is there to protect the big two – French agriculture and German industry – with lobbying rife and champagne receptions held most nights.
“Our policy on these is to send a member of staff to check that no UKIP MEP is at one of the receptions being lobbied” he said.
“The UK has a lot of small businesses and we want to help protect their interests as well“.
When asked about the accusations of the party being racist he pointed out that they are the only party that has a ban on members of the BNP.
“As with the other parties, we have had problems with some members and supporters making comments that we do not condone in any way. As a party we have dealt with these swiftly when they have arisen“.
Interestingly, former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in a recent edition of Progress Online (click here) that UKIP’s pre-election poster campaign was not racist and in fact some of them reflected Labour’s policy on immigration.
“I think it’s an interesting time to be in politics” he said.