Essex voters go to the polls in

Gazette: Essex voters go to the polls in Essex voters go to the polls in

Polling has opened across Britain as millions of voters cast their ballots in European and local council elections.

The booths opened at 7am throughout the UK for the European Parliament contest to return 73 Euro MPs, while more than 4,000 council seats at 161 English local authorities and those in Northern Ireland are also up for election.

Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will await the impact of the Ukip-effect as voters go to the polls following a campaign dominated by Nigel Farage's Eurosceptics.

Party chiefs and pundits will scan the results closely as they attempt to assess if the UK Independence Party is developing into a long-lasting force that will sway who holds power at Westminster after next year's general election - or if people can be tempted back after making a protest vote this year.

A poll by YouGov for The Sun projected that Ukip would win the European elections with 27% of the vote, with the Lib Dems back in fifth place.

Party insiders are braced for the possibility of the Liberal Democrats losing all of their 11 European seats, according to a leaked document, the Guardian said.

Bookmakers predict the Conservatives could be pushed into third place, with Ladbrokes reporting punters are backing Ukip to pick up the most votes in the Euro poll ahead of Labour.

Mr Farage's party hopes to challenge for first place in the European election after a strong showing in 2009 and in council contests and Westminster by-elections.

This scenario coming to fruition could provide Prime Minister David Cameron with a challenging 12 months in Downing Street as he seeks to appeal to the nation and keep the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party content on issues including immigration.

The Government's attempts to slash net migration to the tens of thousands will come under the spotlight as official figures are released at the same time as voters go to the polls.

The election results will also be a clearer indication as to whether Mr Farage's party has successfully negotiated close media scrutiny of its candidates and policies.

A senior Labour source said the party hoped to gain up to 200 councillors, and had been ploughing resources into seats they will be targeting in next year's general election.

A good night would see Labour claim a 25% share in the European elections, giving Ed Miliband's party 22 MEPs instead of the current 13.

But the party admitted that European contests had been "historically difficult" for Labour and other centre-left parties across the EU.

The source also indicated that it would not be surprising if Ukip claimed the top spot and British politics entered a new era.

The source said: "We are now in an era of four-party politics but what we have got to do, and what we hope we are starting to do, is win where it matters in the local elections."

Labour was "ruthlessly" targeting its efforts at battleground seats in next year's Westminster contest, inspired by US president Barack Obama's strategy - masterminded by Labour's new guru David Axelrod - of focusing resources where they would have the most impact.

"We know we are going to have less money than the Tories, so we have got to make better use of the money and people we have got, and to use that in the most sensible way," added the source.

The party hopes the strategy will pay dividends in areas including Redbridge, Croydon and Cambridge.

Labour strategists will also be hoping to see the Tories failing to hold seats in marginal wards in Basildon, Peterborough, Southend and Swindon - the authority where Mr Miliband failed to recognise the name of the party's senior councillor during a campaign radio interview.

The pro-EU Liberal Democrats are braced for a "difficult" night as the results are returned.

The party is set for an electoral mauling in the council contests and could find it suffers a potential wipeout in the European vote after its fourth place in the 2009 poll.

Snap opinion polls also suggested Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was considered to have lost in two televised debates with Mr Farage as his "party of in" pushed the EU case against Ukip, the "party of out".

A Lib Dem source has suggested the party's hopes rest on getting their vote out in the strongholds where they have Westminster MPs.

The biggest battlefield in England is expected to be London, with all seats in the capital's boroughs up for grabs.

Polling stations are open throughout the day and some councils will count overnight, although many will declare during Friday.

Counting of the European Parliament votes starts on Sunday but no announcements can be made until 10pm under rules barring declarations until polls have closed all over the EU.

Comments (9)

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10:08am Thu 22 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

Advice about voting in Local elections whatever your political views select the person who you know will work for their constituents.
UKIP can do nothing at local level unless they have a majority in Parliament.

You could have every local council seat filled with a UKIP party member, but they still will have to abide by central government legislation.
Do not be fooled it is Central government who call the tune remember if you wish to hurt them then do not vote Liberal Democrat or Conservative.
Advice about voting in Local elections whatever your political views select the person who you know will work for their constituents. UKIP can do nothing at local level unless they have a majority in Parliament. You could have every local council seat filled with a UKIP party member, but they still will have to abide by central government legislation. Do not be fooled it is Central government who call the tune remember if you wish to hurt them then do not vote Liberal Democrat or Conservative. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: -6

10:59am Thu 22 May 14

Cllr Martin Hunt says...

It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere.
It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere. Cllr Martin Hunt
  • Score: -3

11:53am Thu 22 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

Cllr Martin Hunt wrote:
It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere.
Dear Councillor Hunt,
Please do not try to alter my previous comment when I am only stating facts.

It is double standards who ever are in control nationally or locally.

If it Local Vote for the person of your choice If you are sitting Councillor is serving your area well then Keep them if not change them.

Nationally why not give the Greens or UKIP a try. We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. It certainly could not be any worse than it is now.
[quote][p][bold]Cllr Martin Hunt[/bold] wrote: It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere.[/p][/quote]Dear Councillor Hunt, Please do not try to alter my previous comment when I am only stating facts. It is double standards who ever are in control nationally or locally. If it Local Vote for the person of your choice If you are sitting Councillor is serving your area well then Keep them if not change them. Nationally why not give the Greens or UKIP a try. We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. It certainly could not be any worse than it is now. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: -1

12:32pm Thu 22 May 14

Mark Goacher says...

Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.
Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored. Mark Goacher
  • Score: 6

12:53pm Thu 22 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

Mark Goacher wrote:
Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.
I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined.
Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations.

The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.
[quote][p][bold]Mark Goacher[/bold] wrote: Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.[/p][/quote]I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined. Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations. The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 1

2:37pm Thu 22 May 14

wardyt says...

Cllr Martin Hunt wrote:
It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere.
Vote Labour - if you are a complete idiot!
[quote][p][bold]Cllr Martin Hunt[/bold] wrote: It's very hard to work out, but I think the message above is Vote Labour. But Labour are locally what the Lib Dems are nationally so there's a bit of a double standard going on somewhere.[/p][/quote]Vote Labour - if you are a complete idiot! wardyt
  • Score: 1

9:09pm Thu 22 May 14

hughie-s says...

Allan Whitehead wrote:
Mark Goacher wrote:
Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.
I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined.
Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations.

The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.
What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins?
[quote][p][bold]Allan Whitehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mark Goacher[/bold] wrote: Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.[/p][/quote]I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined. Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations. The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.[/p][/quote]What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins? hughie-s
  • Score: 1

9:37pm Thu 22 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

hughie-s wrote:
Allan Whitehead wrote:
Mark Goacher wrote:
Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.
I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined.
Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations.

The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.
What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins?
Error Correction " The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These." Provision.
"Remember those who have never made a mistake! Have never made Anything at all.
[quote][p][bold]hughie-s[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Allan Whitehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mark Goacher[/bold] wrote: Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.[/p][/quote]I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined. Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations. The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.[/p][/quote]What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins?[/p][/quote]Error Correction " The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These." Provision. "Remember those who have never made a mistake! Have never made Anything at all. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 0

9:37pm Thu 22 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

hughie-s wrote:
Allan Whitehead wrote:
Mark Goacher wrote:
Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.
I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined.
Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations.

The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.
What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins?
Error Correction " The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These." Provision.
"Remember those who have never made a mistake! Have never made Anything at all.
[quote][p][bold]hughie-s[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Allan Whitehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mark Goacher[/bold] wrote: Whichever way people vote, I hope they just vote for someone rather than not bothering. I completely understand why lots of people are disengaged from the political process but not voting does not mean that you make a point or express your views. It means you are ignored.[/p][/quote]I totally agree We should not count blank papers as spoilt votes, they should be registered as "NONE OF THESE" Further Voting should be made compulsory, and anyone not voting should be fined. Ordinary working people fought very hard for the right to vote one woman was trampled by a horse during those most famous suffragettes demonstrations. The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These.[/p][/quote]What happens if, sorry, when "none of the above" wins?[/p][/quote]Error Correction " The Ballot paper should have prevision with a square saying None of These." Provision. "Remember those who have never made a mistake! Have never made Anything at all. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 0

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