Battleground Yorkshire: If voters aren't decided on Labour after all we've put them through, then there is hope, says York MP

Despite Labour making little progress in the seat over the past decade, York Outer is exactly the kind of seat which it should be winning comfortably at the next election.

Julian Sturdy, the current Tory MP, has not dropped below 49 per cent of the vote since 2015, but a majority of just under 10,000 is not sufficient to save any Conservative at election night under current polling.

Luke Charters, the Labour candidate, ran unsuccessfully in 2017, but says that the reception on the doorstep is much different following the cost of living crisis.

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“It is such a stark difference. From things such as being invited in for cuppas, people driving past, the people beeping their horns, it’s a really warm atmosphere for us out there.

Luke Charters Labour's Parliamentary candidate for York Outer.Luke Charters Labour's Parliamentary candidate for York Outer.
Luke Charters Labour's Parliamentary candidate for York Outer.

“From the villages to the suburbs, our votes are going up, more and more families are interested in our messaging.”

One local labour voter, Ross Divorty, 31, was born in the area and has now moved back to settle down.

He said that he has seen first-hand the issues with childcare, cost of living and housing locally.

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In running holiday clubs for children, he said that spaces were booked up within 2 hours, with partner schools unable to afford glue sticks, while family members such as his cousin have been asked to make an offer on a house on first viewing.

“More and more families are turning away from the Conservatives, and many we’re seeing going to Reform, many are not going to bother to vote,” says Mr Charters.

Though anger at the Tories can drive an election victory for Labour, it does come with risks that the public are too alienated to vote at all.

Roy Clarkson, 51, who runs an active Facebook group for local residents in Elvington, is passionate about the NHS and admires Tony Blair. He should be voting Labour, but isn’t planning to, although he thinks they will win.

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He said that one speech by Boris Johnson during the campaign was like a “Churchill moment” for him, but said the architects of the campaign disappeared as if York City had won the FA cup and the manager quit.

Mr Clarkson hasn’t voted since.

The lack of progress Labour has made in convincing Tory voters gives the current MP, Julian Sturdy, hope that the damage can be limited at the next election if the Government starts to convince voters that it can be trusted again.

“The positive element of that is that after everything we’ve put them through over the last 18 months they’ve still not committed to voting Labour,” he said.

Certain Tory support in many seats is now limited to the Tory base, older voters such as Molly Lamb, 90, a former teacher who used to run senior citizens events in Elvington.

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She said that she will “support the party I have always supported” in the Conservatives.

Yet for every Molly, there is a Paddy. Also 90, she is more unsure of how she will vote and, as with vast swathes of the public, sceptical of politicians.

Having been involved with running coffee mornings for bereaved people through the local church around Huntingdon, she says that there is now less of a sense of community, due to people retiring later.

“Once you’re retired at 60 you were pretty able-bodied and useful in the community, you took on voluntary roles. They’re now having to be grandmas while younger people try and buy houses.”

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Her vote, and those of many undecided older people like her, is up for grabs, but feels “corruption” and a lack of trust is keeping her unsure.

“I’m very political. I vote but I haven’t pinned my flag to any particular colour, at the moment I just don’t know.”

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