London borough 'on the fence' between Labour and Conservative in election say 'they've lost their way'

David Devore, 81, with his wife Rosalind Devore, 85, in Holland Park
-Credit: (Image: Adrian Zorzut)

Voters in a London parliamentary seat narrowly won by 150 ballots in 2019 have said Labour and the Conservatives have “lost their way” and are unsure who to back on July 4. MyLondon visited Kensington and Bayswater on Wednesday (May 29) and spoke to voters from across the newly-created seat about what election issues matter to them most.

Laura Montgomery, 46, has lived in Ladbroke Grove for 14 years and calls herself a Tory voter but said backing the Conservatives this General Election would be “catastrophic and disrespectful” to the country. She praised her local Tory MP Felicity Buchan, who is seeking re-election, but feels the Conservatives have no plan.

She said: “In my view, they don’t understand the problems. They have been in power so long and talk about the issues but don’t do anything about them.”

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Laura Montgomery, 46, on a street in Ladbroke Grove
Laura Montgomery, 46, said she's unlikely to vote for the Tories -Credit:Adrian Zorzut

She is not sold on Labour either. Laura said Labour’s plan introduce VAT on private school fees, which it claims will raise £1.5bn, will result in a “flood” of children into state school, which she said were already overburdened and under-resourced.

The mother-of-three, whose children attend a private school, said: “It’s disrespectful. People work hard to send their kids to private schools. Not all of them are flushed with cash. It’s the kids in state school who will suffer the most.”

The West London mum said the major parties should instead focus on a “reasonable” wealth tax and suggested those well-off might not mind paying a little extra to improve local services and infrastructure. She also said climate change was a massive concern for her and is toying with voting for the Greens or the Liberal Democrats as a result.

She said: “I want intelligent policies and it feels like it is the opposite. It feels like we're being treated like idiots.”

‘They did f*** all about it’

Retired statistician David Devore, 81, from Holland Park, has voted Conservative in the past but feels the party has run out of steam. He said: “The Tories have had a good run. They’ve had a good chance and now they’re running out of energy and ideas.

"They are all squabbling amongst themselves and have no clear direction. All the parties are clutching at straws and putting out bait hoping people will vote for them.” David, who describes himself as socially conservative, feels the party lost its way when it legalised gay marriage in 2014, which he is personally opposed to.

He also believes the major parties have failed to prepare for the impact the Boomer generation is having on services and resources. He said: “For decades and decades all the people who know about demographics and statistics have known there would be a big demand from the Boomers and [the Government] didn’t prepare… They did f*** all about it and as a result, our taxes are going up”.

The 81-year-old, who migrated to the UK from Massachusetts, also believes cutting taxes isn’t going to solve Britain’s economic malaise. He accused Labour of following the same fiscal rules as the Conservatives and boxed itself in as a result.

He said: “They had a chance to do something different but they haven’t.” David said he also wants to see Ladbroke Grove police station reopened. David’s wife, Rosalind, 85, is a Liberal Democrat voter and plans to vote for them again this election.

Felicity Buchan has regained the Kensington seat from Labour Party's Emma Dent Coad
Felicity Buchan MP is seeking re-election -Credit:Conservative Party

‘I feel the Conservatives encourage people to work’

Back in Ladbroke Grove, self-employed driver and casual gardener Mike Tesfa said he’s waiting for more policy announcements before deciding who to back in July. Mike said he is particularly interested in policy aimed at helping working families like his and which encourages people off welfare.

He said: “I was in both worlds. I started on benefits and now I’m working and I’m paying taxes. I feel the Conservatives encourage people to work.” The 38-year-old said he is against the party’s Rwanda policy, saying it’s too harsh and out of step with other European nations.

His wife Sarah hasn’t made up her mind either. A Labour voter, she switched to the Tories in 2019 because of their policy of 30 hours of free childcare. She is toying with voting Labour again but called the current contest between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer a “choice between the lesser of two evils.”

Les, 81, said he had always voted Labour and plans to do so again. He said improving service in the NHS was his most pressing concern. As a regular user, he said the NHS has struggled in recent years to keep up with demand. He said: “There is very poor service, very poor. You can’t rely on appointments and appointments are hard to get.”

Conceptual image of a person voting, casting a ballot at a polling station, during elections.
The General Election will take place on July 4 -Credit:Getty Images

Kensington and Bayswater was established in 2023 during a periodic review of parliamentary constituencies. It consists of nearly all of the former constituency of Kensington and includes Bayswater and Lancaster Gate wards in Westminster City and the southern half of the Queen’s Gate ward which belonged to the previous Chelsea and Fulham constituency.

The seat of Kensington was won by Tory MP Felicity Buchan by 150 votes in 2019. Labour’s Emma Dent Coad won the seat from former Tory MP Victoria Borwick by 20 votes in 2017.

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