Politics

‘There’s no one to believe in’ – Target Town voters have their say

Voters in Grimsby – one of Sky News’s election Target Towns – have been offering their views on politics, politicians and “broken promises”.

The electoral battle in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, the Target Towns, will be fierce. Labour will need an 11.7 point swing to win this newly-merged constituency back from the Conservatives.

In 2019, residents in Grimsby voted Tory for the first time since the end of the Second World War. The old Cleethorpes constituency was always more of a bellwether, having voted Conservative since 2010.

However, it has shed some of its rural, Conservative-voting residents in the merger.

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Speaking on the Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge, small business owner Shannon said she might not vote in the next general election later this year as she “just can’t trust anything anybody says”.

She said she has felt this way since Brexit – something Grimsby was overwhelmingly in support of – because “we were promised ‘x’ and ‘y’ and it hasn’t happened, so I’m just totally disengaged from it”.

More on Target Towns

Asked whether local MPs on the panel – Conservative Lia Nici and Labour’s Melanie Onn – could change her mind, Shannon said “possibly”, but reiterated how let down local people feel.

“We’re promised a lot, but it’s never delivered,” she said. “Talk of things happening… and then it doesn’t happen and people are just fed up… have been told this is what we’re going to get, but it doesn’t actually happen. And that’s why people have just lost faith.”

The Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge has reported from Grimsby
Image:
The Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge has reported from Grimsby

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‘Lack of leadership’

Steven told Sophy Ridge that he will “force” himself to vote at the election as “you should”, but he doesn’t believe there is anyone worth voting for.

“I find politics almost unbelievable,” he added. “It’s nothing to believe in. There’s no one to believe in.”

He puts the blame down to a “lack of leadership nationally” and that the current crop of politicians “lack the statesmanship” needed.

“The politicians that we looked up to and respected as children and young people seem to have vanished,” he added. “It seems to be petty about scandal, backbiting.

“I think there are important issues that need to be addressed in this country, and I think turn on the television or watch debates, and that seems to be sorely lacking in politics at the moment.”

‘Start caring about us’

Sarah used a former US president to express her upset at the state of politics today, telling Sophy Ridge: I think Ronald Regan said it best – the most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’, which I think is basically what most people think about the intervention of either Labour or a Conservative government.”

She said neither party had done anything for the town during their stints in power, and despite growing up in Grimsby, she was keen to leave as a result.

“It’s a shame really, because, you know, my family is from here, I’ve lived most of my life here, so it should be a place that is going to be a draw for young people – especially when you look at the housing prices.

“We just went to Liverpool in February and that’s such a wonderful city, you know, it’s like apples and oranges. But you look at what’s going [in Grimsby] and… the town centre is all fake shops or barbers or charity shops.

“No one does care about us and at the end of the day you can vote for any politician, but when they start caring about us, maybe we’ll care back.”

Stark and bleak view from Target Town voters

The battle for a town that no one there wants.

Sky News is reporting from Grimsby in the run up to the general election as one of its ‘Target Towns’ – a key constituency prized by both Conservatives and Labour – Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

But it turns out that Grimsby doesn’t really want them.

It hasn’t always been a town doused in apathy. In 2016, 70% of people here voted to leave the EU – one of the highest results in the country – and in the 2019 election, the constituency turned Tory for the first time since the Second World War.

But five years on, polling by Sky News found that since then, the number of people saying they “almost never” trust the British government to place the needs of the nation above the interests of their own party has nearly doubled – from 26% to 49%.

It’s a stark but bleak view. Voters tonight described both leaders as uninspiring and uninteresting.

When asked what they make of the current prime minister, words like ‘weak’ and ‘performative’ were used. Voters couldn’t make their mind up about the Labour leader, saying they were unsure about him or his policies.

The lack of a clear dividing line between the two parties could be a problem in the general election, especially as both parties have been trying to show a bit more leg this week ahead of a fully fledged election campaign.

Labour have shown a hint of more radical policies today, with their announcement on aiming to nationalise railways within five years. But have they waited a bit too long to impress the people of Grimsby?

The Conservatives ratified their Rwanda policy into law today, but voters here weren’t hugely enthused by that either. One member of the audience tonight proclaiming they care much more about housing and the environment. They asked – why is the centre of political debate about Rwanda and a policy we don’t really care about?

Apathy might override this election.

‘We fight for your town’

So what did the politicians have to say in response?

Both the Tory and Labour MPs accepted their roles in the downbeat feelings, with Ms Onn saying: “I do think I’m part of a system that bears responsibility for not communicating politics well, not engaging with people, not making them feel that they are heard enough through the course of our debates.

“I think the British public at large probably deserve to hear people occasionally say we haven’t always been as good as we could.”

But Ms Nici insisted it was not all just sniping in parliament and MPs do care about what happens to their constituents – and the country.

“What your MP does is go out, have a look at the legislation and then fight for your town,” she said. “I work hard every day to make sure that I’m listening to what you want and to be able to represent that right at the heart of at Grimsby.”

And both MPs agreed the town had a great future ahead after the next election. But it will be for the Shannons, Stevens and Sarahs to decide who stands up for them after the next election.

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