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Voters don't know who their MEPs are
DO YOU recognise any of these faces? If you don’t you are not alone.
The Dorset Echo headed out into the streets of Weymouth and Dorchester last week and asked dozens of residents if they could identify the people in the pictures.
Not a single person we asked could name any of these individuals who are the current MEPs representing the people of Dorset.
No one could name any of their representatives in Strasbourg and Brussels and the majority said they had little or no interest in European politics.
The surprising result, showing the people of Weymouth and Dorchester do not know their MEPs, comes ahead of polling day tomorrow when residents will be asked to vote for the next batch of representatives for European Parliament.
Forty-eight candidates under eight separate party banners will contest the South West’s European Parliament seats tomorrow.
The region, which includes Dorset, covers an area stretching from Gloucestershire in the north to Wiltshire in the east to Cornwall in the west, plus Gibraltar.
A total of six seats are up for grabs. Each party is entitled to put up six candidates, and MEPs are allocated according to the share of the vote the party secures.
In 2009, the Conservatives secured 30 per cent of the South West vote, returning three MEPs. UKIP won two seats and the Lib Dems one. The region, which includes Gibraltar, returns six MEPs to Brussels.
HOW MANY OF OUR MEPs DID YOU RECOGNISE?
They are: 1 Giles Chichester, 2 Trevor Colman, 3 Sir Graham Watson, 4 Julie Girling, 5 William (The Earl of) Dartmouth and 6 Ashley Fox
WE ASKED the same people we surveyed if they thought the European Parliament elections mattered to them.
Barbara Smart, from Weymouth, said: “I don’t know any of those people, but I will vote because it’s a good chance to show the government what the public think.”
Pippa Horton, from Beaminster, said: “I usually vote but I’ll probably only get round to it this year if it’s on the way home from work. To be honest I don’t know much at all this year about the candidates or the elections and there’s not that much on the news about it. I think it’s more important to vote in the general election.”
Bob Brewer, from Dorchester, said. “I don’t have a clue who any of those people are but I’ll probably vote. You should at least vote in the general election because if you don’t vote you can’t have a say on things.”
Dorchester teen Fern Matthews said: “I will vote because I’ve just turned 18 and it’s my first election season. If I don’t vote I can’t complain about things, so it’s important.”
Paul Ackerman, from Dorchester, said: “I’m planning to vote because it’s important if you want to change things, but I couldn’t tell you who any of those people are.”
Beaminster resident Kevin Ecclesley said: “I might vote and I might not. It’s a bit of a waste of time because no-one in power listens to the public.”
David Whiddett, from Weymouth, said: “I have already voted because it’s important to decide whether we are part of the EU or not. I think the current candidates haven’t done a good job of letting people know their policies or discussing the elections.”
Sharon Brooks, from Dorchester, said: “I have no idea who any of those people are. I certainly haven’t seen any of them out on the streets campaigning. I am planning to vote because it’s up to us to do what’s right for our country by taking part and making sure we have a say.”
Cherylynne Saunders, from Dorchester, said: “It is important to vote to make sure you have your say, but I don’t recognise any of them.”
Geoff Mercer, from Dorchester, said: “I’m planning to vote because otherwise it gives the wrong party a chance to get in and they’ll take us out of the EU, which would be bad for jobs.”
Annie Wait, from Weymouth, said: “No, I don’t know who they are. It’s important to vote because otherwise you haven’t got a chance to complain about the way things are being run.”
Julie Sherred, from Weymouth, said: “I watch Newsnight and Question Time and am interested in politics but I haven’t had a single leaflet through my door or seen any of the candidates campaigning. I will probably vote, but not for any of the mainstream parties.”
Jill Hughes, from Weymouth, said: “It says a lot that so many people don’t know who their current MEPs are.
“I haven’t met anyone or had anything in the post this year either so I might not vote.”
Eileen Hilton, from Weymouth, said: “I think one of them is in politics but I couldn’t say what his name is.
“Are the rest of them on television?
“No one came to have a chat with us so I haven’t had a chance to get to know more about their policies.”
Polling day is this Thursday, May 22 and residents can vote between 7am and 10pm.
Results will be announced on the evening of Sunday, May 25.
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