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I learned the two biggest things bothering voters when I was out canvassing for the election

I WAS out canvassing on my local High Street. The sun was shining and I had a spring in my step. I saw a little old lady coming towards me with her shopping trolley.

“Good morning madam! What a beautiful day! Can I count on your vote in the forthcoming election?” I asked, beaming.

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Voters desperately want a bigger police ­presence on the streets[/caption]

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There’s all the little stuff, which really matters like drivers who break an axle on a pothole[/caption]

“You should be bloody hanged,” she replied, and went into ­Morrisons.

I can tell you, that deflated my optimism for a moment.

Truth be told we’ve had a great reception out on the streets. Mostly.

She’s the only person who ­actually thought I should be killed, anyway.

Well, the only one who TOLD me I should be killed. Maybe there’s thousands of them. Hmm.

The thing I hear most often is about Labour.

If I had a pound for every time someone has said: “Well, they can’t be any worse, can they?” I wouldn’t need to get my deposit back.

That’s the overall message. People are probably going to vote for the Labour Party.

But they are not doing so with any great enthusiasm. The least awful of two pretty bad options.


Believe me, nobody has said: “Ooh, that Keir Starmer’s absolutely terrific, isn’t he? What a guy.”

They said that about Tony Blair in 1997.

There’s no great feeling around that Sir Keir’s Labour Party will change the way we live for the ­better, as there was back then.

Just a relief that we might be able to get rid of the Tories, at last.

People are tired of them. Tired of the incompetence and arrogance.

I hear that an awful lot, as I pound the streets. Tories only in it for themselves. Conservatives lining their pockets through contracts.

Or by betting on the election date. Tories on the make, Tories on the take.

People are tired of them. Tired of the incompetence and arrogance.

But nobody at any time in this campaign has said to me, “well, I really like Labour’s ­policy on . . .” then named an issue.

THIS, then, is the great default election. The ­negative election. With most people not actually voting FOR someone. Just against them.

I’ve been campaigning in ­Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

On paper it’s a straight fight between the sitting Tory MP and the Labour challenger.

Labour’s candidate is first rate. A young, local lad with a background of working for the community. He would make a fine MP.

And I suspect he will get in.

But there is an appetite for greater change than what Labour seems to be offering nationally.

ANTI-WOKE

I’m standing for the Social ­Democratic Party — we’re a tiny, if fast-growing, party. But there’s been a lot of genuine interest in what we stand for.

A radical, reforming party which is anti-woke and pro-British.

There’s also quite a bit of support for Reform — who aren’t standing here, they’re backing me instead.

Some of the stuff which the ­pollsters and London media seem to think are the most important issues haven’t figured here at all.

What they do care about are local issues. Policing comes very near top of the agenda. The voters are sick of anti-social behaviour.

Oafs with dangerous dogs they can’t control. Quad bikes and off-road motorbikes tearing up the footpaths. Horrible little scrotes frightening old people.

Oh, and of course, the druggies.

They want a bigger police ­presence on the streets.

And there’s all the little stuff, which really matters. Drivers who break an axle on a pothole.

The traffic jams getting into ­Middlesbrough. And rising up the agenda, pollution of our rivers and seashores.

We’ve got it quite bad up here on the North East coast.

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Voters want a real clamp down on knife crime[/caption]

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Labour incredibly don’t even plan to take water companies into public ownership despite sewage being dumped[/caption]

The singer Feargal Sharkey turned up to campaign with Labour candidates on behalf of Surfers Against Sewage.

Someone should tell Feargal that Labour will do nothing radical about our awful water companies.

Incredibly, they don’t even plan to take them into public ownership.

The biggest things bothering the voters, though — once you’ve removed “Tory utter uselessness” from the equation — is the cost of living and immigration.

For too long this area, and the country in general, has suffered from chronically low wages.

People are skint. Their living standards have dropped.

And those low wages are a direct consequence of that other thing the Tories failed magnificently on: unrestricted immigration.
People are aghast at the sheer numbers of people coming into our country every year.

They are not “anti-immigrant”, as the Left would like to portray it.

They just think that as a country we cannot cope. And importing low-waged workers into the UK depresses wages still further.

And in later years it will cause us heaps of problems in social care and so on.

ODIOUS IDENTITY POLITICS

There is a strong kick-back, too, about the ­progressive agenda. The jiggery-wokery.

One bloke said to me as we walked along the Guisborough ­Forest path: “How can I vote for a party whose leader can’t make his mind up about whether a woman has a todger or not?”

They are appalled by the radical agenda of the pro-trans lobby.

And they don’t like seeing our country trashed and its history written off as “racist”.

None of those odious, divisive, identity politics so beloved by ­Labour have any purchase up here.

Which is why Labour have shut up about it recently.

I don’t think they have any purchase nationally, to be honest. Except among a tiny tranche of perpetually infuriated nutjobs and rabble rousers.

People say to me, time after time, that the people we should be ­looking after are those who try to do the right thing. The young ­married couples, the people who work hard for long hours and receive low pay.

There is a strong kick-back, too, about the ­progressive agenda.

Yet neither of the two main ­parties seems to give a monkeys about families.

And they will continue to reward people who stay at home all day watching Abandoned Engineering on the Yesterday channel. Instead of finding a job.

MY guess is that this election will be a ­little tighter than the polls currently ­predict. I think some ­people are embarrassed to admit that they are still thinking of ­voting Conservative.

I suspect that the Tory vote is being a little underestimated.

Labour will probably get its majority, but it won’t be the big-bollocked super-majority they are expecting. Good.

And I suspect that more and more people will turn to the smaller parties — for a proper change. And that an awful lot of people will stay at home and not vote at all.

I would guess that the vote shared between Labour and Tory will be the smallest for a good half-century or more and the turnout down.

People sense that our politics is broken. That the divide between Right and Left is past its sell-by date, like a pair of rotting kippers.

They want something else, but our electoral system doesn’t really allow it.

I should probably have done some publicity-grabbing stunt to boost my vote here.

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Voters don’t like seeing our country trashed and its history written off as ‘racist’[/caption]

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Voters are sick of oafs with dangerous dogs they can’t control[/caption]

Maybe a bungee jump, like Ed Davey of the Lib Dems did.

But the problem is I still have a semblance of dignity and I’m not nine years old.

One way or another, though, our politics is changing — and needs to change. I am not sure at all that a Labour government will work out for the best.

And there is something a little sad and despairing in that oft- repeated quote: “Well, they can’t be any worse, can they?”

They can and quite possibly will.

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Every weekday Sun Political Editor Harry Cole brings you the latest news and analysis from the election campaign trail.

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