What will the aspiring Norfolk MEPs do for you?

POLITICS-EU-065793

- Credit: PA

Voting for the seven MEPs who will represent the East of England for five years is on Thursday. Political editor Annabelle Dickson asked some quick-fire questions, and looks at the opinion polls.

Conservative MEP candidate, Vicky Ford. Photo: Nick Butcher

Conservative MEP candidate, Vicky Ford. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant © 2010

The babies have been held and the 'selfies' taken, now it is time to cast our votes.

Labour MEP candidate, Richard Howitt. Picture: Ian Burt

Labour MEP candidate, Richard Howitt. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Thursday will be your chance to say who you want to represent Britain in the European Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MEP candidate, Andrew Duff. Photo: Ian Burt.

Liberal Democrat MEP candidate, Andrew Duff. Photo: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

Green MEP candidate, Rupert Read. Photo: Jerry Turner.

Green MEP candidate, Rupert Read. Photo: Jerry Turner.

• Euro candidates fight for the farming vote

UKIP MEP, Patrick O'Flynn. Photo: Bill Smith

UKIP MEP, Patrick O'Flynn. Photo: Bill Smith

• Former Labour MP gives his backing to the Greens in the East

• UKIP cannot serve the interests of working people, Labour leader Ed Miliband claims


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As MEPs, aspiring MEPs and each party's supporters reach the final furlong in the campaign for a seat, the polls are giving conflicting views about which party will triumph.

While a ComRes survey for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror at the weekend put Nigel Farage's anti-European Union party out in front, an ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed UKIP had slipped to third place, behind Labour and the Conservatives.

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The polls come after Mr Farage faced a storm of criticism following an interview on LBC radio last week where he suggested there was a difference between how people should feel if Romanian or German people moved in next door.

UKIP took out a full page advert in the Daily Telegraph, in the form of an open letter to the British public insisting it was not a racist party today.

But will this matter, and how similar to the national picture will the Eastern region result be?

Lead Green candidate Rupert Read is hoping his party's bounce nationally will get him over the finish line. In the last election in 2009 he missed out on a seat by just 1%.

ComRes show the Green Party has pushed the Liberal Democrats into fifth place at 7%, while Nick Clegg's party is down to 6%.

Unlike the British parliament, these elections use the proportional representation (PR) system. This makes it easier for non-mainstream parties, such as the Greens and UKIP to win seats.

But one drawback of PR is that it means you cannot pick and choose which candidates you support: you vote for the party, not the person.

CONSERVATIVE

• Vicky Ford is an economist and former local councillor. She has been an MEP since 2009.

• Should Britain be in, out or part of a reformed EU? • No to a federal Europe but yes, potentially, to a reformed single market with less EU red tape, less EU waste and less expense.

• The best thing about the EU for the East? It's our local role in the international science community which is helping to find cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer and clever solutions for huge global challenges like food and energy security.

• Worst thing about the EU for the East? Heavy-handed top-down EU laws which burden business. Cross-border criminal activity is a growing concern, so we need firm action on those who evade UK laws and exploit benefits.

• When I get to/get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is... A specific and detailed timetable of negotiations to deliver reforms before a referendum.

• A vote for me will... make sure the keys to the Bank of England will never be handed over to Brussels and we start the process of returning powers to Britain.

LABOUR

• Richard Howitt is the longest-serving Eastern MEP. He ran a local disability charity for nine years.

• Should Britain be in, out or part of a reformed EU? Reform from within. By being part of a large party grouping, Labour's on the winning side.

• The best thing about the EU for the East? £1bn EU funding helping business, unemployed people, education and the environment.

• Worst thing about the EU for the East? The Conservative-led government in Britain is able to block EU funds I've helped to win to support our local foodbanks, to get young people into work and secure compensation for last winter's flood victims.

• When I get to/get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is... A change in the austerity policies that have held back recovery for business and inflicted cutst. Time too for the EU to review competition between energy companies to build on Labour's promise to freeze energy bills.

• A vote for me will... re-elect a hard-working Euro MP who always seeks to serve his constituency, joined by more MEPs from a Labour Party which... provides an alternative.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT

• Andrew Duff has been Lib Dem MEP for the East of England since 1999.

• Should Britain be in, out or part of a reformed EU? Britain should remain in the EU, but make more of its membership. Toying with leaving risks losing jobs, trade and clout in world affairs.

• The best thing about the EU for the East? Our science R&D is top of the European league. Our efforts to lead in green technologies are sustained by the EU. Thanks to the CAP, East Anglian farms are now among the most competitive and productive in Europe.

• Worst thing about the EU for the East? Some EU legislation is too intrusive, especially for small business.

• When I get to/ get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is...? Elect a new president of the European Commission – I will vote for the European Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt. Finish the job of sorting out the bad banks and creating conditions for new jobs, especially for young people.

• A vote for me will... keep in the Parliament the region's most pro-European voice, committed to continuing the process of democratic reform.

GREEN

• Rupert Read has taught political and environmental philosophy at the University of East Anglia since 1997. He has been a Norwich city councillor.

• Should Britain be in, out or part of a reformed EU? We say yes to a referendum, yes to staying in the EU and yes to major reform. Key in achieving that will be a tilt in the balance of power away from the unelected Council of Ministers and European Commission, in favour of a stronger European Parliament.

• The best thing about the EU for the East? Greens have won tougher climate change targets, helped legislate for cleaner beaches and water quality and cleaner air.

• Worst thing about the EU for the East? Its failure to overcome the sense of disconnection felt by so many voters in this country.

• When I get to/ get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is...an unlocking of the huge potential for the east with its long coastline. I will play a leading role in the shift towards renewable energy.

• A vote for me will... be a vote for hope, not fear. Tackling problems at source, not scapegoating others.

UKIP

• Patrick O'Flynn is director of communication for UKIP. A former journalist, he worked as chief political commentator and then political editor of the Daily Express.

• Should Britain be in, out or part of a reformed EU – how will a vote for you achieve this? We need to get out of the EU and become a self-governing country in charge of its own borders again. UKIP is the only major party that wants Britain to get out.

• The best thing about the EU for the East? A tough one for me – I guess I'd say the fact that we get some of our money back. But of course we are ordered how to spend it and expected to be grateful.

• Worst thing about the EU for the East? Where do I start? A total lack of immigration controls in respect of more than two dozen countries and more than 400 million people on continental Europe.

• When I get to/ get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is... To close it down.

• A vote for me will... really, really annoy the establishment politicians from the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems. Go on, you know you want to.

Political editor Annabelle Dickson will be covering the European election results on Sunday evening.

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