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The seaside town where bemused locals can hardly move for candidates.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE by KEIR MUDIE

The walk from Ramsgate train station to the town centre is about a mile.

I was expecting the route to be lined with posters, but the nearest I got was on the edge of town when a bloke thrust a leaflet into my hand with 'support' in big letters on the top.

It turned out to be an advert for orthopaedic beds.

He is probably the only person in town not standing for election.

There are, at the last count, eleven candidates in Thanet South in Kent. They include the Greens, the Lib Dems, the Tories, Labour, a handful of independents, a couple of pub landlords, a prophet from the nation of Ooog and, of course, Nigel Farage.

Since Farage announced his plan to stand, the focus has become even more intense. And his vow to quit if he loses has added extra impetus.

The media are practically camping here, pollsters are on the phone every couple of days and the candidates are out and about as much as possible.

Comedian Al Murray launched his manifesto this week by turning up in a fire engine converted into a pub. And the whole thing has left the locals more than a little bemused.

Donald Fleetwood, 73, came down to Ramsgate to retire in 1999.

Originally from London, he came to the seaside for a quiet life. "It's all been a bit showbiz," he groans.

Meanwhile voter Scott Woods tells Labour candidate Will Scobie: "I'm a Labour voter but I'm honestly thinking about voting UKIP." Then he admits: "I don't really like their policies." In the town centre I bump into Farage himself and we have a quick pint in The Royal, where drinkers approach him, eager to discuss his chances or their problems with Thanet Council. "It's fantastic," he tells me. "Being out on the street, meeting the people."

But not all of them are quite so keen to meet him. In the Red Lion, one drinker compared locals' plight to the end of the dystopian novel Animal Farm. Paraphrasing George Orwell, he said: "They looked from comedian to candidate, and from candidate to comedian, and from comedian to candidate again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

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Bar talk: our Keir with Farage

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2015
Words:383
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