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Brent voters have their say ahead of polling day

In a North London borough where voter turnout is often on the lower side, it perhaps came as no surprise that the overwhelming response from residents asked to give their opinion on the imminent General Election was, ‘I’m not bothered’. The three seats up for grabs in Brent are safe Labour territories but the mood is palpably apathetic, it’s therefore perhaps fortunate for the party that what is unifying voters is anger at the Tories.

According to Electoral Calculus – a ‘poll-of-polls’ used to predict the result of an election – the newly named seats of Brent East (formerly Brent Central) and Brent West (formerly Brent North) will both be comfortably held by the incumbents Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner respectively. The newest seat, Queen’s Park and Maida Vale, is also predicted to be won by the Labour candidate, Georgia Gould.

At the 2019 General Election, only around 60 per cent of Brent voters went to the polls and it doesn’t feel like that’s going to change tomorrow (July 4). If anything, the last five years seems to have fuelled greater apathy and distrust in politics more generally.

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Richard, 74, said the cost-of-living has hit the country hard and Brent is no exception. Richard feels wages need to rise to lift the burden on those who have been hit the hardest. He said: “With taxes in this country, with VAT and everything, I can’t see the price of food going down, the only thing that can go up is the wages. I’m a pensioner so it doesn’t really affect me but the youngsters need to get a decent wage so that they can live their life. […] I’m always hoping that things will change for the benefit of the public.”

Brent voters have their say ahead of polling day Harrow Online
Richard, 74. \’It\’s a habit\’: Richard will be voting Labour as he has always done. Image Credit: Grant Williams. Permission to use with all LSDRS partners

Polls have been long predicting a Labour win, with the only thing in question the scale of Conservative defeat. The party looks to be losing votes it gained from the former ‘red wall’ in 2019 back to Labour, alongside many blue seats in the south expected to swing to the Liberal Democrats. But it is perhaps the possibility of being outflanked to the right by Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party that could do the greatest damage to the Tory seat numbers.

Graham, 60, and his wife Karen, 58, who both voted for Brexit, told the LDRS that they feel ‘betrayed’ by the Tories and any recent progress that has been made is ‘too little too late’.

Talk of immigration has dominated the election, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak putting ‘Stop The Boats’ as the front of his campaign. But Graham thinks the Navy should patrol the English Channel to stop boat crossings.

Brent voters have their say ahead of polling day Harrow Online
Graham, 60, And Karen, 58. Graham is a former Conservative voter but will be voting Reform UK tomorrow. Image Credit: Grant Williams. Permission to use with all LSDRS partners

He said: “The French are supposed to be blocking the boats but everyone’s coming over. […] In my eyes we should have our Navy patrolling the Channel. […] I do agree that we need people over here because we’ve got our lazy people in the country that don’t want to work. Doing the fields or whatever, cleaning the toilets, our lot don’t want to do that for some reason.”

Given his Brexit vote, Graham did give a somewhat surprising suggestion to fix some of the issues facing the country. He said: “Maybe go back in the EU because the older people in the country have ruined it for the younger ones. The reason we did [Brexit] was because we wanted the borders closed but they messed that up.”

With the expected scale of both a Labour victory and Tory defeat, some residents are seeing this election as an opportunity to back a smaller party as a way of pressuring the government into focusing more on the issues they feel are most important, such as climate change and voting reform.

Brent voters have their say ahead of polling day Harrow Online
Nick, 51. Nick, 51, voted Labour in 2019 but will be voting Greens as it won\’t risk a Tory or Reform candidate being elected. Image Credit: Grant Williams. Permission to use with all LSDRS partners

Nick, 51, said he will judge the next government on metrics such as child poverty, clean rivers, and a more cohesive society, which he suggests have been ‘made worse’ by the Conservative government. He said: “We’re clearly a poorer nation, […] there’s more deprivation, I see more homeless people, I see the state of the public realm, I see public services – the NHS, libraries, we are clearly worse off. […] It’s been a disaster.”

The shadow of Covid still looms long for some voters and will impact their decision on polling day, there is particular anger that people were left to die alone in hospital corridors and at the Downing Street parties that took place during lockdown. Ena, 62, said the Prime Minister at the time, Boris Johnson, ‘didn’t care’ about the public.

Brent voters have their say ahead of polling day Harrow Online
Ena, 62. Ena, 62, said she is still \’so angry\’ about what happened during the pandemic. Image Credit: Grant Williams. Permission to use with all LSDRS partners

She told the LDRS: “I’m still so angry about what happened during Covid. About all of us that had people that died, people in hospitals at the time that didn’t get care, that couldn’t get their family to go in and see them. Those that were left to die on their own in dreadful circumstances, it didn’t need to happen.”

Tomorrow, voters will be asked to take a look at all of the candidates on offer locally and put a tick in the box of the one who they feel represents their views and will champion them most effectively in Westminster over the next five years. Click here to see all the candidates standing across Brent.

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