European elections 2014: Labour aim to get back on South West map

Padstow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fishing and farming dominate the South West economy and are likely to be election issues

Labour has perhaps the biggest point to prove out of all the political parties hoping to make their mark in the European elections in the South West region this year.

The party was completely wiped out in 2009, even with traditional pockets of support in places like Exeter and Bristol.

Its lead candidate this time round is Clare Moody, a trades unionist who was also in Gordon Brown's Number 10 policy unit in the run-up to the last European Elections.

Also looking for gains will be the UK Independence Party which already has a handful of councillors across the region's county and unitary authorities, as well as two MEPs after a strong 2009 performance.

The party has tried to increase its visible presence by opening offices in busy shopping streets in areas like Christchurch and Dorchester in Dorset.

The Conservatives, which topped the 2009 poll in 33 of the 37 council areas winning them three MEPs, have brought a touch of sporting celebrity to the contest with Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell bidding to become an MEP.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Olympian James Cracknell is standing for the Conservative party

What all the candidates will need to address is concerns about farming, which is still a significant sector in the region's economy, and all parties have spoken of the need for changes to the Common Agricultural Policy and the system of farm subsidies.

Fishermen too have direct interest in these elections, largely due to the issue of "discards" - the practice of trawlers having to throw back fish into the sea if they exceed their quotas.

The Liberal Democrats failed to top the poll anywhere in 2009 but received 20% or more of the vote in seven areas and picked up one seat.

The best Green performances were in Bristol (16%), Stroud (16%), Bath and NE Somerset (14%) and South Hams (14%).

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