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The Other F Word and the New Normal

16/04/2015 20:02 BST | Updated 16/06/2015 10:59 BST

In a sunny corner of Kent, you hear the F word everywhere at the moment. No, not that one. I'm talking Farage. I visited Ramsgate - shimmering in the beautiful spring sunshine - on Monday to present BBC Radio 5 live Drive there.

As we career towards the General Election, the eyes of the country are on South Thanet, because it's where Ukip leader Nigel Farage is making his sixth attempt to become a Westminster MP. He's promised to quit the party's top job if he loses again, but don't forget he's got form for that too - standing aside in 2009 only to return a year later.

One of Nigel Farage's stabs at a seat in the Commons was made in this same constituency of South Thanet, exactly ten years ago. He managed to poll just over two thousand votes, around five per cent of the total. So what's changed since then? Frank, who sells fresh seafood right on Ramsgate harbour, is a lifelong Tory who's changed allegiance to Ukip. He's seriously disenchanted with politicians of all colours, telling me: "It's time to give someone else a chance."

As he fed prawns to a huge loitering seagull, he described how tourists there are often caught out by greedy birds stealing their fish and chips if they turn their back to collect salt or vinegar. Is this what Nigel Farage had in mind, pouncing on unattended disillusioned voters and cleaning up?

That's one of the things that drew us to Ramsgate as a stop on BBC Radio 5 live's countrywide tour of some of the key marginal constituencies that could play a big part in May's election. We're visiting 20 in 20 days to get a real feel for how voters are being wooed - or otherwise - by the election campaign so far.

Back in January, Ukip were confident they'd capture South Thanet, but a leaked internal poll suggested a far tighter race, making the seat a three-way marginal contest between UKIP, Labour and the Conservatives.

Not everyone in Ramsgate was following every twist and turn of the election campaign, of course. In fact, to be frank, most weren't. As the sun shone and the seagulls squawked, I enjoyed hot, fresh fish and chips among people more interested in soaking up the sunshine than the latest poll results.

Beverley arrived to take part in our programme not knowing who to vote for, clutching a rainbow handful of campaign leaflets that hadn't done anything to help her decision. She left after three hours of spikey political chatter (and a large glass of wine) with big plans to stand as a candidate herself next time round.

At least she was enthused by it all. When I asked people on Harbour Street how they were planning to vote, it was a massive reality check. Politicians take note, most of them didn't know, and with weeks to go until polling day, many said they didn't care just yet. Night-before decisions were talked about, one man said he'd wait to see how his girlfriend told him to vote.

What happens in South Thanet is important. What happens there will change the political landscape, in one way or another, forever. It's about more than just a Ukip, Labour or Conservative victory. What this seat will really tell us - along with all the other intriguing marginals we're immersing ourselves in on BBC Radio 5 live over the next few weeks - is whether we've genuinely entered an era where two-party politics is a relic of the past and "patchwork quilt" coalitions (a beautiful phrase coined by our chief political correspondent John Pienaar) are our new normal.