#ELLGE19: After all the politics, now is the time to hear the voice of the people as they prepare to vote

As the General Election campaign ends, Eastlondonlines took to the streets  to ask local people about the campaign and whether the subjects and issues they care about had been addressed by candidates

Hackney
Tower Hamlets
Lewisham
Croydon

Labour is deeply ingrained in Hackney. Both seats in the borough are held by progressive Labour candidates and are predominately Remain areas. This makes it unsurprising that Brexit is the issue on everyone’s lips. With nods to the climate crisis and the NHS, the issue of anti-Semitism is likely to figure in an area with a significant Jewish population.

Anthony Nicols, 42, office worker

“[Issues are] not being ignored, obviously Brexit is the biggest issue, and the NHS is quite high on the agenda. [Although], knife crime is not that high on the agenda. I don’t think the parties are representing the people properly. I think on the right we have a bunch of liars, and on the left a bunch of incompetents.” 

Alex Woodham,31, software engineer

 “My opinion at the moment is that everyone is talking about Brexit quite a lot and I’m sort of like, this is really bad, but also the climate is quite a big thing. Obviously there was the climate change debate itself, but more on that would be nice.” 

Nat Meeker, 43, teacher

“To me it’s all about Brexit and the thought of Brexit terrifies me. I think everyone’s avoiding that really, and focussing on everything else. I just want to know that we are not going anywhere, that’s by big thing. I have two children and I am really worried about their future. Everyone is skirting around [Brexit]. Living here it is pretty much definite that Diane Abbott is getting in again and I think Labour are not in any way brave enough to stand up and say they are going to do anything about it.”  

Lawrence and Rosemary McGinty. pic: Clara Hill

Lawrence and Rosemary McGinty, 69 and 72, retired

“They are now going on about ‘let’s giving all the EU citizens a vote’, and no one has mentioned the British citizens living in abroad, it’s never been mentioned. We have paid our taxes all our lives, and we have no franchise at all. Boris Johnson has fallen shy of mentioning [Brexit]”.  

Ousseynou Faye Diagne , 35, kitchen porter

 “To [leave the EU] is not a good opinion. I don’t think it has been spoken about enough. For me it is better that we stay together.”  

Ousseynou Faye Diagne pic: Clara Hill

Junior McDavid, 55, a trainee bus driver

 “I don’t know. They are saying the things that need to be fixed, but they are really going deep into it. The different parties will tell you about, oh NHS, oh Brexit – I’m still confused! They aren’t making up their minds. The issue closest to me] is how they are sorting out the NHS, but what’s happening – I don’t know where it’s at.  

Shaun Mason,36, charity worker

“For me, the NHS [is the biggest issue]. I can’t see any evidence or coverage on what they are going to do on resolving the issues we have with it. They are not really tackling it and they aren’t really voicing it. It is all about getting their foot in power.”  

Eilish Brightwell, 21, trainee accountant

 “I’d probably say that the issue I care most about is how the next government plans to tackle environmental issues. Although the different manifestos have specific polices to tackle climate change, I think it seems like it’s an issue that’s addressed out of obligation rather than a desire to deliver change. Brexit is obviously at the forefront of most conversations, and [although] it important Brexit is handled properly, it is overshadowing other issues”.   

Successive waves of gentrification may have changed Tower Hamlets more than any other London borough in recent years but politically, Labour remain dominant. And while both constituencies in the borough are expected to return strong Labour majorities, the divisiveness of the national Brexit debate has definitely brought an air of uncertainty to local politics.  We went to Brick Lane in the heart of Tower Hamlets to find out what people thought.

Alex, 35:

“It depends what papers you read, everything is so manipulated. It’s ludicrous how there’s not fact-checking. You can say whatever you want in the mainstream media and get away with it completely”

 

Dharmesh. Pic: Eleanor Magill

Dharmesh, 45 :

“It feels like they’re not talking about Brexit enough. They’re talking about other issues, so that people will talk about them and not realise how much damage Brexit will do. Everything is muddied and polluted with other stuff when there’s this big existential thing that needs to be decided on and I don’t think a general election is a good way to solve it.  

Luke, 36 :

“Naturally, they’re tackling Brexit which is the main issue but I think they’re neglecting the other issues frankly. We’re at a point where first past the post is redundant and a really frustrating way to elect our MPs. I’d prefer a proportional system because otherwise it becomes a two-horse race where neither horse is really adequate.”  

Roly Pic: Eleanor Magill

Roly, 23:

“I feel like the entire election has been overshadowed by Brexit. Obviously, that’s important but Jeremy Corbyn’s sudden U-turn on Trident hasn’t been mentioned and all the terrible economic disasters in the Tory manifesto haven’t been mentioned. I just feel like it’s been really hard to have any nuanced conversations about anything important because the whole thing is tactical voting and Brexit.” 

David, 35:

“I think the parties have done a good job of touching on all the important issues like healthcare and Brexit. At some point over the next few days I’m going to spend some time reviewing all the policies as I’m aware that I need to vote but I’m currently undecided.” 

Across the three constituencies of Lewisham, all Labour strongholds, the effects of gentrification and austerity are being felt. This historic election has been controversial and divisive, with Brexit and the NHS obvious battlegrounds.  

Eastlondonlines went out in Lewisham to see which issues people feel are at the forefront this election, from social care to Universal Credit, and the party leaders themselves.  

Patricia Hull, 60, trainer 

“I’m voting Conservative because I want to leave the EU. I made up my mind three years ago with regards to Brexit and nobody’s coming forth on that. From what I’ve heard I seem to be the only one around here who wants that.” 

Simon Crabtree pic: Caitlin Otway

Simon Crabtree, 39, sales executive  

“The main issue I have is that I’ve had no contact with anyone so far. None of the candidates have knocked on the door, I’ve had no leaflets through the door. And that’s not acceptable.  

I think people are being influenced by what they see in the right-wing press. One of the main issues is Universal Credit, but no one is talking about the impact that policy is having. Universal Credit has been a cluster fuck since the beginning. 

I don’t think I’ll vote this time. I can’t see anything other than a conservative win. I’ll be comfortable not voting.  

Jessica Gibbs, 54:

“They [politicians] say they’re going to do one thing, and it doesn’t happen. For the kids, the suffering, there’s no support. So many young men are lost and they’re trying to find what they need… I would like to see them to do more to help the youngsters, definitely.  

And the elderly are suffering. We wouldn’t be here without them in this country, and I think they’re forgotten. So many gave their lives so that we have the privilege to be here.” 

Deidre Boylan 72, retired 

“I will be distraught if Boris Johnson wins. Absolutely distraught. I cannot understand how that man can have made so much progress – that immoral, unethical, serial liar. I am not that fond of Jeremy Corbyn however, and I think if we had a good Labour opposition, we could put all of this to bed a lot sooner” 

Unlike the other three ELL boroughs, each Croydon constituency has distinctive traits; the green suburbia of the south is juxtaposed to the urban centre of Croydon and the typical voting patterns in each area reflect this. Since its creation in 1974, Croydon south has always been blue, while Croydon north is a Labour stronghold. Meanwhile, Croydon central is an authentic swing seat, and has been a targeted campaigning location for major parties during the election build-up.  

Eastlondonlines went out in Croydon town centre to gauge the public’s mood in the final hours leading up to the election.

Bashir Bajul, 58, engineer

“I’d say that they’ve touched on them, but it’s all a game isn’t it. That’s the problem. They’re saying what they need to say to get into power. I don’t think they care about what they say. When Boris was interviewed about that boy in the hospital yesterday, he just showed the contempt.” 

“They’ve all got good issues and good points, but if you put Brexit aside, you’ve got to get rid of austerity, we’ve had twelve years of austerity and all of a sudden there’s all this money they can spend, well where was that five years ago? They’re only dog things for their own gain.

Denis Croton. Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Denis Croton, 82, retired

“To a certain extent, but overall it’s just been about Brexit. All the promises they’ve made they won’t keep, not one of them will be kept, it’s ridiculous, where are we going to get all this money coming from without getting further and further into debt.” 

“Poverty now is unbelievable, I’m 82 now and when I was a kid it nowhere near as bad as it is now, it’s ridiculous. People only think of one thing now, themselves, and politicians only think about feathering their own nest.” 

Carol Baker, 70, retired insurance clerk

“I’ve not always voted Conservative, and when I was young I voted to go into the common market and now I regret doing it. It’ not a common market anymore and they’re dictating to us.” 

“I’m voting for Boris and Brexit. The MP here, Chris Philps is really good, on both levels, but mine is Crispin Banks, from Reigate and Banstead. I have dealings with Chris Philps because I’m on the residents’ association. If you go to him [Philps] with any issue he’ll look at it and say that he can help or no he can’t and if he does help he fights for issues. He’s been fighting on the Purley skyscrapers you can’t fault him with an MP. Whatever he is I would have voted for him.” 

Shubha Phatt, 25, student

“I don’t have any personal issues, but I’m voting Conservative party rather than the Labour. It looks safer to go on the Conservative side. Labour is more liberal than is necessary, and that will be damaging for the country. Labour is more open, but now we need good management as well.  

“I’m hoping that Brexit happens, it just keeps getting delayed. It will be good for people who are living here legally. 

Phoebe Rix, 19, dog walker  

“I’m voting Labour, they relate with the young people better. They’ve raised some good points and issues, money towards mental health. Helping people with benefits and stuff so I think Labour will be helping people a bit more. I wish I knew more about the election, and I don’t. I wish were taught more about it. I think labour is working towards a more positive change, giving more, helping more.” 

Megan Cummins Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Megan Cummins, 21 student

“the candidates have been tackling issues that are important to me a little bit, yeah. Locally, not really nationally. There’s been a lot of discussion about the NHS.  

Enrico Spinelli, 81, retired chef 

“No candidates haven’t been addressing the issues that really matter. I’m an old man, Ive seen a lot of prime ministers in my days. Politics is a lie, if you don’t lie then people won’t believe you. The two candidates you have: one is a compulsive liar – if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend who cheats on you then the trust is gone, it’s the end of the road, its exactly the same in politics, he is a compulsive liar. The other one is a coward, hes sticking to the middle of the road and doesn’t go one way or the either. He thinks if you go the left or the right then it might damage the party.”  

“People are blaming Brexit, because people are blaming the foreigners. But really the problem is the internal politics, not what’s external to the politics. I am a foreigner; I came to work as a chef in the Savoy in 1961 because the English didn’t want to certain jobs anymore.” 

George Blake, 25, charity worker

“The thing is, it is not important if they have tackled important issues so far, but if they are actually going to tackle them after the elections.” 

“The issues raised like Brexit, climate change, international relations, they are relevant issues. Brexit is very relevant to me as a person, as it will affect me directly.” 

Leave a Reply