Apathy, anger and a need for change - the mood of all 27 Greater Manchester constituencies as voters head to polls

Manchester City skyline viewed from Werneth Low Country Park
-Credit: (Image: Manchester Evening News)

In the build up to polling day on Thursday, the political picture of Greater Manchester has been one of apathy and a desire for change.

On May 22, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a general election would take place on July 4 outside 10 Downing Street. In the weeks that followed the Manchester Evening News pledged to visit all 27 constituencies across the city region - and locals made their voices loud and clear.

Reporters from across the M.E.N newsroom have gathered opinions from the very people politicians are hoping will head into the polling booth and put a cross next to their name.

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Although each individual constituency has its own talking points and issues, there were two key themes that rang true across all of them. This was a strong desire for change and political disillusionment.

Despite the best efforts of the M.E.N reporters, we couldn’t speak to every single voter in the GM region - so the proof of public opinion will be in the pudding come polling day on July 4.

Here are the opinions from each constituency in Greater Manchester…

Altrincham and Sale West

Mixed reactions among voters in Altrincham -Credit:Manchester Evening News
Mixed reactions among voters in Altrincham -Credit:Manchester Evening News

The leafy area has been dominated by the Conservatives for decades, but according to locals things could soon change.

Politics writer Joseph Timan describes how the loss of control over Trafford Council for the blues back in 2018 and gains for other parties was possibly the start of change in the area. Many residents spoke of being former Conservative voters but are planning on going in another direction this time around.

The influx of young families into the area will not aid the Tories either, writes Joseph.

The affluent 'bubble' where the Conservatives could be in trouble


Ashton-Under-Lyne -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Talk in the town centre in the heart of Tameside focussed more on what they thought of their current MP Angela Rayner rather than who would win - as that seemed to be viewed as inevitable for Labour.

Locals were split on what they thought of the woman who could soon become the new Deputy Prime Minister if Labour claimed victory. Some said she was straight talking and relatable, others were not entirely convinced though.

The town whose MP could become deputy Prime Minister... but not everyone is behind her

Blackley and Middleton South

Harpurhey Precinct
Harpurhey Precinct -Credit:LDRS

The areas of Harpurhey and Alkrington are new constituency partners, and they had one thing in common - political apathy.

Both areas felt like no matter who they voted for, they would be forgotten. The fact the previous incarnation of the constituency as Blackley and Broughton had one of the lowest turnouts at the last general election was no surprise.

Speaking to residents, things don't look like they will change anytime soon.

This could be most politically disillusioned area of Greater Manchester

Bolton North East

Albert Hall in Bolton Town Centre
Albert Hall in Bolton Town Centre -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Conservative MP Mark Logan was elected in 2019 with a majority of 378 votes, and was one of several new Conservative MPs in Greater Manchester as the party swept to victory across the country.

That was until he quit the party and joined Labour. Reporter Thomas George found that one of the most marginal seats in the country is set to be a tight run affair yet again with many different voices and opinions all wanting change.

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Bolton South and Walkden

Local Democracy Reporter Chris Gee headed down to Farnworth to speak to locals who have found themselves in the newly named constituency of Bolton South and Walkden.

The features of politics in the town has been the success of independent parties in local elections, particularly Farnworth and Kearsley First, who currently have five councillors at the town hall. But with no independent candidates vying for votes, the impact of the Farnworth vote on the overall outcome remains a mystery.

'I'll vote for anyone who will sort the potholes out. They are an issue on every single road'

Bolton West

This is another Bolton seat that is more of a traditional marginal with both the Conservatives and Labour winning over recent decades.

Road congestion and housing developments in the areas around the large towns of Horwich and Westhoughton were the main talking points for voters. Yet again Local Democracy Reporter Chris Gee bumped into a mix of political allegiances, but whoever can convince them they're the party to clear the traffic problems in the area could just get over the line come July 4.

The Greater Manchester town where a 'five-minute journey can take half an hour'

Bury North

Nic Gorton in Bury town centre
Farnworth currently has a Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi

Bury is another town that was calling for change with many residents using the word when speaking to the M.E.N.

On the need for it, the consensus is almost unanimous, but where people disagree is on who can make things better. Apathy towards the Conservatives and Labour is everywhere, even among those who say they are backing either of the main two parties.

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Bury South

Work is underway on Radcliffe's new £40m Civic Hub
Winter Hey lane in Horwich

The Bury South constituency consists of Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich, all of which are up and coming and the subject of huge development.

At the last general election voters elected a Conservative MP - Christian Wakeford on a slim majority of 402 - for the first time since 1992. He crossed the floor to join Labour back in 2022.

New constituency boundaries will see some of Radcliffe moved into Bury North, while Kersal and Broughton Park will be brought into Bury South. But despite the Conservatives standing a well-known local candidate, Rabbi Arnie Saunders, a Tory councillor in Salford, the bookies have Mr Wakeford long odds to win again.

One was the 'poor relation', the other 'up and coming'... until now


Cheadle village
Nic Gorton in Bury town centre -Credit:Manchester Evening News

This may be one of Greater Manchester's most affluent constituencies, but it's clear many people here are feeling the pinch.

Reporter Chris Slater found there was palpable anger at how politics has served both the area and the country. The Lib Dems lost the seat to the Tories in 2015, who have held it since.

However, they have their eyes fixed on winning it back. And the Tories' performance here could be a bellwether of how they get on nationally.

In one of our region's most affluent areas, the streets are filled with anger and disillusionment

Gorton and Denton

Local Democracy Reporter Declan Carey headed down to the hustle and bustle of Levenshulme - which will become part of the newly-formed Gorton and Denton seat at this election.

The cost of living crisis and the war in Gaza were the town main topics of conversation. More space for businesses and people was a demand as well as lower rent prices.

The 'trendy' Manchester suburb that could lose people to Didsbury and Withington

Hazel Grove

One man spoke to the M.E.N about how he had a good job but still struggled to pay for some basic necessities.

Hazel Grove has had a Conservative MP since 2015, but local Mark said he and others in the area are really struggling, and looking for political change. Tactical voting was spoken about here, which could see the Tories ousted for the Lib Dems.

The Stockport village that voted Conservative but now 'wants the Tories out'

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Heywood and Middleton

Heywood town centre
Work is underway on Radcliffe's new £40m Civic Hub -Credit:Manchester Evening News

In the two towns that sit between Rochdale and Manchester, a tale of being forgotten was hot on the lips.

Both areas felt like no matter the change from Labour to Conservative or vise versa, there would be no difference. Talk of a local champion has got people talking here, with a feeling that someone from the area would have a better understanding of the towns' needs.

'No one's bothered about our Greater Manchester town... it's neglected'

Leigh and Atherton

Voters discuss a need for change ahead of the general election
Cheadle village -Credit:Colin Horne - Manchester Evening News

The town of Leigh was famed for being one of the 'red wall' seats that turned Conservative for the first time ever back in 2019, but it looks like that may have just been a flash in the pan.

Reporter Tom George was told of the downfall of the town centre in the last decade, with antisocial behaviour, drug taking and shoplifting becoming more common. Turning back to the Labour Party and their former MP Jo Platt seems to be the solution most sought.

The once 'thriving' town that turned Tory for the first time but where people now want 'change'


Ashton-in-Makerfield is the main town of the Makerfield constituency, which is seen as one of the safest Labour seats in the country.

Locals say that business owners vote Conservatives and the workforce vote Labour traditionally, but this time things are different. A number of shop owners bemoaned the state of the town centre and the Conservative government.

This could possibly mean the increase of a majority for the reds if these opinions reflect the mood of the area.

'It's an old town with old fashioned people. Everyone says they want change but for 100 years nothing has happened'

Manchester, Central

A picture of Levenshulme Antiques Village. Image taken by local democracy reporter Declan Carey. Free to use for LDRS partners.
A picture of Levenshulme Antiques Village. Image taken by local democracy reporter Declan Carey. Free to use for LDRS partners.

Manchester Central has seen significant boundary changes since the 2019 election.

Then, Lucy Powell — now shadow leader of the house and in line for high-ranking cabinet post if Keir Starmer moves into Downing Street — won by 56 percent of the vote. It was Labour’s 30th-safest seat in the UK.

But even with the boundaries, which now include Failsworth in Oldham and don’t include Hulme or Moss Side, Ms Powell is largely expected to win here.

We could be on the verge of a generational political change... but some voters are more bothered about their burgers

Manchester, Withington

The town of Marple in Hazel Grove constituency. Copyright: LDRS. Free to use for LDRS partners. Uploaded by Declan Carey, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Stockport
The town of Marple in Hazel Grove constituency. Copyright: LDRS. Free to use for LDRS partners. Uploaded by Declan Carey, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Stockport

Local Democracy Reporter Ethan Davies took a stroll through the leafy areas of south Manchester to talk politics, and what he found seemed to match up with the results from 2019.

Roughly four in five intended voters said they would go for Labour, a little higher than Jeff Smith’s 67.8 percent share in 2019. No-one mentioned they would absolutely back the Lib Dems in an area with two of their councillors, and nearly claimed a third one less than a month ago.

It’s a telling sign that in this part of the city, the national picture is more important than the local one.

Apathy and despair on the leafy streets of south Manchester

Manchester, Rusholme

Longsight street market,  Manchester
Heywood town centre -Credit:Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News

In the local elections on May 2, George Galloway’s Workers Party candidate won here, ousting the deputy leader of the council Luthfur Rahman. Mr Rahman had represented the area since 2008 for Labour.

In the month since then, the war in Gaza has raged on. Longsight looks, feels, and operates, in the same way it did on the day of the local elections. But it looks like the area is ready to support Labour again, this time in the general election.

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Oldham East and Saddleworth

One thing is clear in Oldham East and Saddleworth, Greater Manchester’s biggest constituency - people want change.

For many of the voters the M.E.N. spoke to, that change is often about more than kicking the Tories out of Downing Street. While some residents we spoke to were content to ‘send a message’ to mainstream politicians by voting for independents or smaller parties, one voter thought ‘the whole system’ needed an overhaul.

The Greater Manchester streets where people have had enough

Oldham West, Chadderton and Royton

Voters discuss a need for change ahead of the general election -Credit:ABNM Photography
Voters discuss a need for change ahead of the general election -Credit:ABNM Photography

Royton town centre featured a number of people chowing down during their lunch breaks when Local Democracy Reporter Charlotte Hall paid them a visit.

The biting weather was not quite as off-putting as election talk though. Of the dozens of people the M.E.N. stopped to ask about the upcoming vote in Royton town centre, most said they either ‘weren’t interested’ or ‘didn’t know if they’d vote’.

The Greater Manchester area where people are so unbothered some don't even know the voting age


Rochdale town centre
Ashton town centre

The seat held by Workers Party leader George Galloway sees many people struggling, but, much like other places, faith in politicians fixing these problems is in short supply.

In the short time Mr Galloway has been in office (since February), it seems he is like marmite from what political writer Joseph Timan found. Some thought he had done a lot for the town, others were not fans.

The result for this seat will go down to the wire.

'I'm doing two jobs and I still find it hard - can George Galloway really change things?'

Salford and Eccles

In Salford precinct there is worry about young people in the city. Salford has pockets of people living in poverty and a homelessness crisis on the streets - there is the feeling is that Salford is still being ignored.

The city's politics is dominated by Labour, which has a majority on the council and holds all parliamentary seats in the borough. With a surge in national support for the party, it's hard to see how that could change after the election on July 4, despite the issues people in the city are facing.

Their city is growing, but they say their community is being chipped away

Stalybridge and Hyde

Stalybridge town centre with canal running through
Manchester city centre -Credit:Manchester Evening News

It has been nearly 80 years since Stalybridge and Hyde were not represented by Labour in Parliament - and there seems to be no expectation of change.

Some were happy with the area's political status quo, calling Mr Reynolds 'helpful' and 'good', others saw the lack of change in the constituency as disillusioning. It's a divide that was particularly stark between the two towns themselves - voters in Stalybridge generally spoke positively of their incumbent MP.

They share the same MP, but people in these two Greater Manchester towns could not be more divided


Market Place in Stockport
A view of Withington village -Credit:Manchester Evening News

In March, Stockport came out on top in a Times poll of the best places to live in the north west. Its newly-found bohemian vibe has even seen it dubbed 'the New Berlin'.

The town is currently undergoing a £1bn overhaul, but locals still need to be convinced by their new label and what the future holds. Gentrification is rife, but that is not seen as a positive thing by all in the area.

It's one of the 'coolest places to live in the UK', but some people in this Greater Manchester area feel left behind

Stretford and Urmston

Andrew Western, the Stretford and Urmston MP
Longsight street market, Manchester -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Sitting Labour MP Andrew Western had a near-10,000 majority when he won the 2022 by-election following the retirement of Kate Green, when she became Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime.

There was no shortage of Conservative voters found by Local Democracy Reporter Nick Jackson, but he couldn't find many who thought they actually and a chance of ousting Mr Western.

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Reporter Stephen Topping headed to the town centres of Wigan and Standish, and found a vast difference between the two.

Standish has beamers parked along the streets and bustling independent delis whereas Wigan's Grand Arcade has lost a number of big names since opening in 2007 - including Debenhams, BHS and Marks and Spencer. Although this constituency has is a Labour stronghold for current MP Lisa Nandy, there is a feeling the two areas are going in different directions.

The neighbouring Greater Manchester towns heading in different directions

Worsley and Eccles South

Labour took Worsley and Eccles with a majority of just over 3,000 votes back in 2019, so it could justifiably be called a marginal seat.

However Local Democracy Reporter Nick Jackson came up short on his hunt for a Conservative voter that had faith the blues could turn the Labour tide in the Salford borough. What the M.E.N gleaned from the streets of those two areas of the constituency, if there was an ‘Apathy Party’, it might romp to victory.

'I don't think either of us will be voting... I don't think our opinion counts'

Wythenshawe and Sale East

'I’d like to see them telling the truth'
Pictures from Oldham and Saddleworth East constituency

Frustration over the lack of change in this part of Greater Manchester is rife.

Many feel as though they have been 'promised the world' and yet have seen no difference. In Wythenshawe shopping centre a large proportion said they were 'tired of politics'. A common theme around the area was that whatever gets promised is never delivered.

Someone who can convince these voters otherwise may have a shot at becoming their new MP.

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