Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson loses seat

 Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson Sir Graham Watson said he was 'disappointed but not terribly surprised'

A Liberal Democrat MEP was one of the South West's highest profile casualties in the European elections.

Sir Graham Watson, who first won a seat in the European Parliament in 1994, failed to be re-elected as one of six MEPs for the region.

UKIP topped the poll, winning two seats. The Conservatives also took two, with Labour and the Green Party each taking one seat.

It is the first time the Greens have won a seat in the South West.

Five years ago, voters chose three Tories, two UKIP and one Lib Dem MEP.

This year the Lib Dems only came top in one council area, winning Gibraltar, and failed to collect a single second place.

'Taken a beating'

For four years, according to BBC Political Editor for the West of England Paul Barltrop, the Lib Dems have "consoled each other" through "successive election shocks".

"But Graham Watson's departure even brought praise from a UKIP rival, and a commiserative kiss from Tory Julie Girling," he said.

Analysis

Despite UKIP topping the poll, the demise of the Lib Dems in their traditional power-base was the big story of the night in the South West.

Sir Graham Watson has been a Lib Dem MEP for 20 years and before last night, few would have predicted his rejection at the ballot box.

Speaking without rancour or bitterness he said it had been "an honour and a privilege to serve the South West".

UKIP's victorious William Dartmouth led the tributes, saying Sir Graham had given "distinguished, competent, able and professional service for 20 years".

The Conservatives lost one seat and now have two MEPs in the region, while Labour say their recovery in the South West is well on the way

But the biggest cheer of the night went to Molly Scott Cato. The keen apiarist (bee keeper) created a buzz of her own as she became the Green Party's first South West MEP.

"He will be missed by his party - and by many in Brussels, where this multi-lingual veteran of 20 years had served at the highest levels."

Defeated Sir Graham said: "It has been an honour and a pleasure to serve the south west of England and Gibraltar in the European Parliament. I shall miss it but I wish my successors well."

He said the loss of a seat for the Lib Dems and a loss of a seat for the Conservatives reflected the fact they has been in government through a difficult and long recession.

"Politics is the kind of profession that you live with winning and you live with losing and I have no doubt the Liberal Democrats will be back.

"Naturally I am disappointed but not terribly surprised. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have taken a beating."

UKIP topped the poll in 24 of the 38 districts in the region.

William Dartmouth, elected for the party along with Julia Reid said: "This is a massive wake-up call to the establishment politicians and media - there are a lot of people dissatisfied and feel their concerns are not properly responded to."

Conservatives Ashley Fox and Julie Girling retained their seats, but double Olympic gold medal winning rower James Cracknell missed out as the party saw its seats slip from three to two.

Green Party economist Dr Molly Scott Cato Dr Molly Scott Cato is the first Green MEP to represent the south west

Ms Girling said: "I don't think this is going to be repeated in the general election next year but I'm not going to be complacent about it and will be working very hard to make sure Conservative MPs are returned across the region in 2015."

Labour's Clare Moody retook a seat for Labour, who had won no seats at the last election.

The former Unite union official who worked in Gordon Brown's Number 10 Policy Unit said: "People are starting to put their faith back in the Labour Party and we will work really hard to deliver on that faith for working people.

"We'll work to bring investment and jobs to the South West so people can really feel the benefit of our EU membership."

UKIP's William Dartmouth UKIP's William Dartmouth retained his seat

The sixth seat was won by Green Party economist Dr Molly Scott Cato.

Dr Cato, who was elected after the Greens won 11.2% of the vote, said: "I knew it would be very close and possible for the Greens to win.

"With the electoral system it wasn't certain and it has been quite a tense evening. It is fantastic that the South West now has a Green voice in Europe."

Seats in the European Parliament are allocated according to the D'Hondt system, a type of proportional representation.

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