What do Clacton voters make of Nigel Farage standing to become their MP?

Voters in Clacton have given a mixed reaction to Nigel Farage’s decision to stand as the Reform UK candidate for the Essex constituency at the General Election.

The party’s founder announced on Monday that he would be contesting the Essex seat and was taking over from Richard Tice as party leader.

But people in the town centre had varying views on Mr Farage's candidacy and what it might do for the area, when questioned by ITV News Anglia.

Lifelong Clacton resident Peter Serghiou, 44, said: "I don't think it matters who stands and who doesn't as the end result is always the same. Which is - for Clacton if you have a look around - nothing much."

Who is standing to be the MP for Clacton?

Nominations have not closed yet but candidates who have declared they will be running in the Clacton seat are as follows:

  • Matthew Bensilum, Lib Dem

  • Nigel Farage, Reform UK

  • Natasha Osben, Green

  • Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour

  • Giles Watling, Conservative

Anthony Moore, 53, said he usually voted Conservative but was not against Mr Farage standing.

"I don't know why he's picked Clacton. I love Clacton, it's my home and I just hope there's certain issues here that can be sorted out especially certain narcotics and stuff that goes on in the square.

"If you come down here on holiday with your kids or grandkids you don't want to see that, do you? If he can do anything why not? Give him a go."

Billy Cooke, 33, said: "I voted Conservative - I don't know if it's the right choice we made. A new person, a new party... maybe that's what we need."

A lone seagull surveys the view in Clacton town centre. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Edel Ruddy, 58, who has lived in Clacton for 40 years, said she would “definitely” be voting for Mr Farage on 4 July as she believed “his heart was in the right place” and he would “stand up” for the local area.

Ms Ruddy added she felt it was “unfair” that businesses in Clacton were closing down and that the town has been “forgotten”.

She added: “No one wants to fight for Clacton.”

When asked what she supported about Mr Farage’s politics, Ms Ruddy said: “I think he’s the sort of person that will try and encourage people to do what they can to make things better. It’s the fact that he wants to try, especially here in Clacton.

“Clacton is so forgotten in so many ways – it’s just utterly ridiculous and unfair.”

Nigel Farage during a press conference to announce that he will become the new leader of Reform UK

Sophie Cassen, 21, a catering industry worker who works and lives in Clacton, said she would not be voting in the upcoming election and that she did not know who Mr Farage was.

When asked for her thoughts on the former MEP’s announcement, she said: “I don’t know who he is. I don’t really keep up to that sort of stuff – I don’t really pay attention to politics.

“I just don’t really know how to – I don’t really go on the news or anything like that.”

George Charalambous, 59, who moved to Clacton from east London around five months ago, said he thought voting for the Reform UK candidate was a “wasted vote” as Mr Farage “wouldn’t achieve much” if elected to Parliament.

The former factory worker said he would be voting for Labour but would also consider voting tactically either for Reform UK or the Liberal Democrats in order to defeat the Conservative candidate.

When asked for his opinion on Mr Farage’s decision to contest the Essex seat, he said: “He’s not going to achieve much because we’ve done Brexit.

“I am a Labour supporter, so would I vote for him? If he was a second choice, I say yeah, I probably would. At the end of the day, it’s sort of tactics really – I mean Clacton is a Conservative area, so obviously I want someone else to win.”

The seafront in Clacton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Jason Matthews, 51, who works in the care industry, said he “loved” Mr Farage and welcomed the news that he would be standing in Clacton.

He said: “I just love him as a person. Given the chance, I feel like he should be leading the Conservative Party really to be honest.”

When asked whether there were any Reform UK policies in particular that he supported, Mr Matthews replied: “Not really – I just like Nigel Farage as a person.”

He added: “He’s straight down the line, honest, says it how it is. I wouldn’t vote Labour or Conservative this time around because I just don’t trust either of them.”

Mr Farage has stood – and failed – seven times to gain election as an MP.

His most recent attempt took place in South Thanet, Kent, in 2015, where the then UKIP leader finished second behind the Tories, who secured a 2,812 majority.

Monday’s announcement came after Mr Farage spent several days insisting he would not be running to become an MP for the eighth time and instead would support Reform by campaigning across the country.

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