Residents of London’s Old Bexley and Sidcup constituencies will head to the polls on Thursday, in the first electoral test for the ruling Conservative party after weeks of negative headlines over allegations bad forced.
The by-election, triggered by the death of Conservative MP James Brokenshire, prompted the emergence of dozens of senior Tories who took to the streets to present their party’s case to voters.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month faced fierce criticism after it was revealed that some of the government’s Tory supporters had raked in millions of dollars. additional income from second job, and concerns surrounding changes to social care reform and HS2 rail project cuts.
Although Labor has never won a constituency since it was founded in 1983, Labor candidate Daniel Francis hopes that growing skepticism about the government’s national performance will enough to convince loyal Tory voters to abandon the party at the local level.
Brokenshire, person died in October after suffering lung cancer, has represented the chair since 2010 and held prominent cabinet positions, including secretary of Northern Ireland, under two prime ministers.
“James is the greatest man and congressman, he is absolutely loved and it is a huge loss to the community,” said local resident Paula Dole.
The 52-year-old told the Financial Times that many in the area have a huge loyalty to Brokenshire due to his active engagement with voters. In the 2019 general election, the late MP won nearly 30,000 votes in the Tory stronghold, almost three times the number his Labor challenger had.
But that loyalty won’t necessarily extend to the entire Conservative party, Dole warned. “Boris [Johnson] should worry,” she said. “I don’t think the Tories have such a stronghold here anymore.”
ONE YouGov The poll from 22 November showed that 64 per cent of Britons surveyed believe Johnson is doing very badly as prime minister.
“I wish the government would deliver on what they promised the voters they would do,” one resident, who asked not to be named, told the FT.
Simone Reynolds, the Liberal Democratic Party candidate for the constituency, commented: “We are getting a lot of unhappy Conservative voters. “We’re also finding a lot of undecided things on the doorstep.”
Reynolds, who has worked in the health field for more than 20 years and has two children at local state schools, wants to act as a “strong voice for local families” and vulnerable residents. most hurt.
She added: “We also have quite a few elderly people in the constituency and they are not happy with the government removing the third lock. . . I think some older Conservative voters are thinking twice now.”
The suburban constituency, located in south-east London, has historically been represented by the Conservative Party, including Sir Edward Heath, who was Tory prime minister from 1970 to 1974.
“Technically Old Bexley and Sidcup may be in London geographically but politically it is a world away,” explains Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. “This is the area that 63% voted to leave Brexit referendum. ”
Based on statistics from London’s Bexley County, which includes Sidcup and Bexley, the area is home to approximately 250,000 residents, with those under 25 making up almost a third of the population, while the proportion of residents over 65 is also growing .
The Conservatives have offered Louie French to represent the seat. French, who was deputy leader of Bexley council and worked in financial services in the City, grew up locally in Welling and Sidcup.
In a move designed to distance itself from the increasingly politically toxic issue of bad jobs and second, recent French promised that he will resign from his City if elected next week.
“As the campaign went on we were getting more and more feedback from people about how upset they were with the government around sleaze and MPs taking second jobs,” Labour’s Francis said. with FT. “We are certainly hearing from Conservative Party voters, some of whom will stay at home and some of whom will vote Labor next week.”
For resident Audrey Johnson, the events of the past few weeks have illustrated the personality differences between the two party leaders.
Johnson said: “I am a Labor member and I will vote Labor. “Keir Starmer is brilliant and he’s honest not a liar like Boris,” said the 74-year-old.
Francis, a former councilor who grew up in Bexley, argued that voters were “disappointed” by the Conservative-led council, as well as the government, citing the prolonged trash can strike. six weeks in the summer along with other interruptions.
“While no one knows what the final outcome will be, it would not be surprising to see the Tory hold with a significantly reduced majority,” said Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political and social opinion polls. course.
Voter turnout on Thursday was a major concern for both parties but especially for the Tories, Wells argued, noting that it could be a lower-than-average turnout. often.
“Getting a passionate public about the Conservatives at this point in the election cycle will be very difficult,” he said. “[They] We are now approaching the middle of their leadership term and we are back in politics as usual. ”
For some residents, the raging controversies over second jobs and the increasingly divisive nature of political discourse have led them to forego the election, despite the persuasive efforts of political parties. candidates.
“I don’t pay too much attention to politics in general,” said resident Amod Mathur. Aston Craddock, 24, added: “I keep politics narrow. “A lot of the things I hear make me angry.”