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Faith in politics is rare

Faith in politics is rare
Faith in politics is rare


ByKevin Fitzpatrick and Angela Ferguson,Greater Manchester Political Journalist, BBC News

BBC Shafiq Ahmed wearing a red jumper, black fleece and hat with his confectionery blurred in the backgroundBBC

Shafiq Ahmed predicts a “distancing of the two main parties”

As Boris Johnson's Conservatives swept to victory in 2019, Labor seats in the northwest of England turned blue for the first time in decades.

Bolton North East was one of them.

In a city where 60% of residents voted for Brexit, it appears the new Prime Minister's promise to “get it done” has resonated with a frustrated electorate.

Its other headline, a pledge to “level up the country” and boost struggling local economies in places like Bolton, is also along the same lines, tapping into a similar sense of dismay at the status quo.

“Many concerns”

Bolton North East didn't cause the same level of shock as some other constituencies, but it had been Labor since 1997.

New MP Mark Logan was part of the new class, excited about the change possible with an overwhelming majority but, five years later, he recently announced he would not run again and intended to vote this this time for Labor.

He claimed that the Conservative Party was now unrecognizable from the one he had joined and that the Labor Party could bring optimism back to British life.

With a Conservative majority of just 378 votes, it won't take many of his former voters following his lead for the seat to return to red.

At Boltons Indoor Market in the center of the town, there is disappointment with how things have gone and a host of new worries.

There is also little optimism that this election will bring any improvement.

Peter McGowan wearing a white overalls and T-shirt with a fish fryer in his fish and chip shop blurred in the background

Peter McGowan of Pillings Fish and Chip Shop in Bolton says his customers are 'disappointed by politicians'

Peter McGowan, 64, has operated his chippy here for more than 40 years and, a lifelong Conservative voter, says his customers are disappointed by politicians.

I don't think they feel those promises have been kept, he said.

Many people feel disenfranchised, they feel like no one is listening to them, no one is interested in what they have to say. I wouldn't put money on the Conservatives this time.

Mr. McGowan believes many of his customers will look beyond the big two on July 4.

A lot of people thought they wouldn't bother to vote, but when the Reform Party came along, a lot of people had a different fire in their bellies, he adds.

A majority of residents here voted for Brexit, expecting a drop in immigration, but it is now reaching record levels.

Nigel Lyons smiling at the camera and wearing a pastel lemon top with a cream colored apron and with his coffee in the blurred background

Coffee Grind's Nigel Lyons says people don't know what to believe anymore

Nigel Lyons, 48, owns the Coffee Grind cafe and says people don't know what to believe anymore.

We all vote for one thing, we don't get the other. This is all just an illusion. The only change is that there are fewer police officers,” he said.

“There are a lot more immigrants here at the moment.

Asked about some of the “upgrade” money that has started coming in, he thinks it could be better spent.

We have a government grant for a new park and a bit of refurbishment in the market, but we would prefer that to go to the NHS, the fire service and the police so people feel protected, Mr Lyons says.

“The NHS is the priority”

It's a sentiment that Marjorie Armstrong, 82, agrees with. She says the NHS is her main priority.

Something needs to be done about this, about the number of people who are booked for surgery and wait a long time for surgery to be done, Ms Armstrong said.

She also worries about the cost of living, saying “prices keep going up and no one seems to be doing anything.”

Marjorie Armstrong smiles, wearing a purple hooded coat and jade green top with a poppy badge, with blurred tables in the background at Bolton Market

Marjorie Armstrong says her main concern is the NHS

But while there is frustration with the Conservatives, enthusiasm for Labour, which runs Bolton council, is in short supply.

Shafiq Ahmed, owner of Kandy Crush confectionery, says he doesn't know who to vote for.

I don't know if there is much trust in politicians. It's one or the other, Conservative or Labor. I don't think the Labor Party has found the answer to that question,” he said.

Mr Ahmed added: “From what I've seen of Keir Starmer, I don't think he's answered any of the questions about how he's going to approach the issues.

“I think there will be a gap between the two main parties.

In 2019 it was a battle between Tories and Labor, with others not even in the conversation.

While polls suggest a return to Labor for an overall victory, other parties could play their part.

This time there are eight candidates in the running, in a constituency that desperately lacks hope.


Bolton North East's eight candidates, listed here in alphabetical order by last name, are:

Hanif Alli – Green, Kevin Allsop – Independent, Kirith Entwistle – Labor, Rebecca Forrest – Liberal Democrat, Trevor Jones – British Reform, Syeda Kazmi – Workers' Party of Great Britain, John Partington – Independent, Adele Warren – Conservative




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