Lib Dem MEP hits the campaign trail in North Devon

10:54 24 April 2014

North Devon MP Nick Harvey has welcomed Wednesday

North Devon MP Nick Harvey has welcomed Wednesday's announcement

Archant

Sir Graham Watson welcomes UKIP challenge and ‘real debate’ on Europe

SOUTH West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson admits he faces his ‘most challenging’ campaign since being elected two decades ago.

Mr Watson highlighted the increased political power of UKIP as one of the factors – but said he believed that could actually help his party to pick up votes on May 22.

“I think that some kind of junction has been reached,” he said. “This election will be much more about whether people want the country in the EU or not and the Liberal Democrats are the only party who are clearly saying ‘yes, we should be in’.

“There’s always been something else on around the European elections – the economy in 2009, the war in 2005 – and for the first time this election is going to be a fight on Europe.”

Mr Watson was in North Devon on Wednesday as part of a tour across the constituency – which spreads as far as Wiltshire and even includes Gibraltar.

He was accompanied by North Devon MP Nick Harvey, leafleting door-to-door in Ilfracombe and also visiting Barnstaple, Mortehoe and South Molton.

Mr Watson, a member of the European Parliament since 1994, is number one on the Lib Dem list and seeking a fifth term in Brussels.

“Every time I go out canvassing I’m reminded of what Tip O’Neill once said: all politics is local politics.

“Nationwide, 45% of our exports go to the EU; in the South West it is 59%, and not just from the big companies you would think of. A lot of it comes from farming.”

“And with such a large area to cover, the issues are going to be fundamentally different in Gibraltar to parts of the South West.”

North Devon MP Mr Harvey underlined a number of the key advantages of EU membership, but Mr Watson conceded that further reform is still needed.

“We are living in a global village now,” said Mr Harvey. “The world has become a smaller place and we can achieve far more if we stay as part of international bodies.

“The UK is in a very strong position. In terms of the economic agenda, being part of the EU is crucial.”

Mr Watson added that ‘lots of things’ still have to be changed, and called for greater transparency and less bureaucracy, and to stop holding parliament sessions in Strasbourg.

It’s very hard to be a liberal coming out of a recession, and people will always go back to the old ways – UKIP clearly appeals to that type of thinking,” he added.

“I used to think when I was first elected in what was then North Devon and Somerset through ‘first past the post’ that would be the hardest election I would ever fight – I think this campaign will be at least as challenging, but that’s what we live for in politics.”

Polling for the European Parliament elections takes place on May 22.

•UKIP will be holding a public meeting on May 7 at the Barnstaple Hotel, with talks from William Dartmouth MEP, environmental campaigner Penny Mills and North Devon parliamentary candidate Steve Crowther.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 11:54
Hele Bay. Picture: Shaun Ferguson

Community could win £25,000 for new tidal pool through Aviva Community Fund

Read more
Yesterday, 07:30
Retiring Dr Ragaii Loka ( left) with replacement Dr Andrew Clarke.

GP from Bideford says he has ‘many happy memories’ of 24 years at Bideford Medical Centre.

Read more
Saturday, May 2, 2015
The May Day giant will not be making an apperance this year.

Annual event forced to take a year off due to unforeseen circumstances, say organisers, but you can still enjoy the Landmark Beer Festival throughout this weekend...

Read more
Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Simonsbath Festival 2015 kicks off on Monday with May Day celebrations for all the family on Exford Village Green from 2.30pm.

Read more
Friday, May 1, 2015
The Gazette team will be selling cupcakes for Nepal.

Pop along to the North Devon Gazette office in Barnstaple on Wednesday to donate to our Nepal Earthquake victims appeal.

Read more
Friday, May 1, 2015
Lizzie and Maggie King.

Sisters from Monkokehampton to compete against each other for Miss Devon prize.

Read more
Friday, May 1, 2015
Hugh Judd, Jake Hatch, Mark Dodson, Jacqui Mock, Nigel Yeo and David Dodd.

Petroc catering students showed off their culinary skills at annual cooking competition.

Read more
Friday, May 1, 2015
(Left to right) Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. Photos: PA

David Cameron came out top in a snap poll following the last major TV event of the election campaign - but the majority of viewers said it would not change their mind on polling day.

Read more
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Malcolm Underwood and Mark Fowler of Barnstaple Link Rotary Club, collecting in the High Street for the Nepal appeal.

Barnstaple Rotary clubs doing their bit to help raise funds for ShelterBox.

Read more
Thursday, April 30, 2015

Join us for the latest live updates as the General Election campaign heats up in North Devon and Torridge. Are you ready to hit the polling stations on May 7?

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 9°C

Most Read News

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition



North Devon's trusted business finder