All the key Coventry General Election trends from Labour landslides to surge in support for Reform

Labour landslides, Conservative defeats, support for Reform and low turnout. All were key trends across the UK and in Coventry at this year's general election.

But what did the politicians make of them? We spoke to people from Labour and the Conservatives at the CBS arena overnight and this morning (5 July) as the results came in.

READ MORE: Labour boost majorities in Coventry as Conservative vote collapses

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Coventry East, July 5 2024
Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Coventry East -Credit:Local Democracy Reporting Service

Labour candidate Mary Creagh became the city's newest MP, winning the the newly named Coventry East seat this morning. The former MP for Wakefield who grew up in Coventry told us she is "absolutely thrilled to be representing the people and the place that made me who I am."

She said the election is a "landmark" one for the country. On the prospect of Labour's return to power she said: "We find ourselves in an extraordinary position after the worst election loss for 100 years nearly.

"To see such a huge swing towards the Labour party is testament to the hard work of Keir Starmer, the leader, and all of the colleagues in the shadow cabinet who have worked so hard to show that we are a changed Labour party where we are listening to people and where people are able to put their trust in us once more."

On the rise of Reform, who pipped the Conservatives to second place in the seat, she said: "I think people have been told that immigrants are to blame for things and I think the politics of Reform are to set people against each other and those are not my politics, and those politics have been rejected in Coventry tonight.

"Coventry is a young and diverse and welcoming city. And despite the increase in their vote I think what we've seen is, neither they or the Conservatives can offer the change in Coventry that people want to see."

On low turnout, she said there has been an "awful lot of politics," and people can sometimes feel "bewildered by the complexity or turned off by the tone." People have also had a "really tough time" over the last 14 years and "don't have the headspace," she said, adding Voter ID may also have played a part.

She recalled talking to a non-voter yesterday. "I said look it's hard to hope. That act of turning out at the polling station that's what tens of thousands of people have done across this city today - it's an act of hope, it's an act of trust."

Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, pictured on 5 July 2024
Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, pictured on 5 July 2024 -Credit:Local Democracy Reporting Service

The city's two other Labour MPs were re-elected today, including Taiwo Owatemi in Coventry North West with a much increased majority. She said she is "truly humbled" to be re-elected and is "committed" to keep being out in the community, talking to and championing her constituents.

"It has been really really wonderful actually to see the change we've been able to achieve just working for the constituency." This includes coffee afternoons and cost of living events, she told us.

On what she is hoping for from the new government, she said: "From speaking to so many constituents I know the key issues impacting them is ensuring children have good access to SEND education, I know it's having good quality housing and being able to actually get on the housing ladder.

"Crime and anti-social behaviour it's a massive issue, it's the reason why I host events because people just generally don't feel safe. And being able to recruit more police officers and train them and bring that sense of community back, it's something that I look forward to seeing hopefully in a potential Labour government."

On the rise of Reform she said: "People do want a change and for some people Reform they believe are able to deliver that change." She added: "Many people have lost faith in the promises not being delivered and I heard that a lot on the doorstep as well.

"For many people this is about trust, this is about the key issues that matter to them and their families are being prioritised. And we've heard what those key issues are, we know that it's crime and anti-social behaviour, we know that immigration is another key issue, and we know just having access to healthcare, things that impact all of us, and the economy is a massive issue as well.

"It's about politicians including myself working hard to build that trust and to show that actually there is still faith in democracy." People "do believe in the system but there is a lot of work to be done to engage everyone," she added.

Zarah Sultana at the Coventry General Election count 2024 -Credit:Ellie Brown/LDR
Zarah Sultana at the Coventry General Election count 2024 -Credit:Ellie Brown/LDR

The last result of the night was Coventry South, where Zarah Sultana was re-elected as Labour's MP for the area. Speaking to us before the result, she said she was "excited" about the prospect of the party returning to government.

"The opportunities are immense. Five years in opposition as a backbench MP is incredibly frustrating because you see all of the problems that your constituents are experiencing.

"In housing, when they deal with the Home Office, when they deal with the Department of Work and Pensions, you see the crisis in local government and the cuts, you see what's happening in the NHS and you just want to do something about it.

And all you can do is highlight it, all you can do is support your constituents. But when you're in government you can push your party and you can lobby for that change to happen." She also said the party have a "responsibility."

"We have one chance to make a huge difference to people's lives and we have to use that over our next parliamentary term because if we don't we see the rise of Reform and we see the rise of politics that divides our communities and blames issues on marginalised communities, and that is a dangerous road to go down.

"And we've seen what's happened across Europe, in particular I think the French elections are a cause for concern. So we have to really, in government we have to make people feel like their lives have changed for the better and that is investing in our public services and bringing up living standards."

Conservatives 'need to go back to the drawing board'

We also asked the Conservative candidates for two of the seats why people have turned away from the party. Tom Mercer, who came second in the race for Coventry North West, said: "I think there's quite a few reasons, I think it's been a really tough 14 years, without wanting to blame the past."

"We've had the global financial crash, austerity, Brexit - however you voted was a real massive upheaval - and the pandemic then Ukraine, so there's been a lot of stuff for any government to deal with. But when you've had one government in power for 14 years and stuff's not going very well as a result of a lot of external things, people just want change."

He added: "There's also the issue around immigration as well. Which is the main, the one issue of Reform, and Reform have taken a huge amount of vote share away from both parties, but I'd say probably more from Conservatives."

He also said "good stuff" has happened over the last 10 years but people are "fed up" with "toxicity" in politics. "I think it's just human nature, people want change after 14 years."

The cost of living and immigration was coming up on the doorsteps, he said. "Coventry voted more than the national average to come out of the EU in Brexit and people feel that's not been delivered for them," he added.

Sarah Cooper-Lesadd, Conservative candidate for Coventry East, pictured at the general election 2024 count
Tom Mercer, Conservative candidate for Coventry North West

Coventry East candidate Sarah Cooper-Lesadd, who ultimately came third to Reform by a few hundred votes in the seat, said: "I think over the last five years we've had difficulties of Covid, Ukraine, and those twin shocks which have really affected the landscape and economically people are suffering and I completely get that."

"British politics is rather cyclical, so once you've had a government in 10, 15 years [people] want a change, and I understand that, that's part of our democratic system," she added.

"I think you see it across the country, I think the surge of Reform has been rather striking and I think that's partly to do with people feel that we haven't got a hold of immigration, we haven't got the Rwanda scheme up and running yet.

"We did have those wheels in motion and we were ready to do that but people understandably feel upset and feel that we haven't got on top of that as quickly as we should have done." Asked what the future is for the party, she said they need to "go back to the drawing board," and look at policies that will bring young people back.

"If you look at 2019, one in three millenials voted for the Conservative party. There is a young Conservative vote out there, but we need to be looking at you know boosting, as Robert Buckland said, boosting young people's aspirations through our policy making processes.

"I think we've become too disparate in terms of our policies. I think we maybe need to come back to the centre ground."

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