London's Lib Dem strongholds split on Ed Davey election antics as lifelong Tory voters abandon party

David Barrable, 75, and Simon Cunniffe, 65, in Kingston town centre
-Credit: (Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

Voters in London's Lib Dem strongholds have revealed who they are planning to vote for in the general election, as they expressed split opinions over leader Ed Davey's campaign trail stunts. The Lib Dems only represent three constituencies in London, which are all in South West London - Kingston and Surbiton, Richmond Park and Twickenham.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) visited Kingston town centre to ask residents living in the area, and neighbouring borough Richmond, how they are planning to vote in the general election on July 4, which was called by prime minister Rishi Sunak in May. Mr Davey has been the MP for Kingston and Surbiton since 2017, holding the seat with a majority of 10,489, in the general election in 2019. He also served in the role from 1997 to 2015.

Simon Cunniffe, 65, and his partner David Barrable, 75, from Teddington, Richmond, are planning to vote for the Lib Dems again in this election and praised Mr Davey for showing humanity in his campaign. Mr Davey's stunts on the campaign trail so far include paddleboarding on Lake Windermere to draw attention to his party's pledges on illegal sewage dumping and taking part in a DrumFit class in a care home in Hampshire to highlight his social care pledges.

READ MORE: General Election seats to watch as Labour hope to take key constituencies

Beryl Walker, 86, in Kingston town centre
Beryl Walker, 86, is planning to switch from Conservatives to the Greens as she likes the party's ethos -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Mr Cunniffe worked in the NHS for 43 years before retiring and welcomed Mr Davey's pledge that his party would, if elected, fund free personal care for adults. He described the Lib Dem leader as 'more human' and 'honest' than other politicians.

Mr Cunniffe said: "I’m now retired, and I’ve got out of [the NHS]. It’s been hard work for 43 years... and the Tories have just wrecked it and wrecked it and wrecked it." He added: "If you don’t get people’s health right and get their security right, nothing else really matters."

Mr Barrable also praised Mr Davey's proposals on personal care as 'fantastic' and described him as the only party leader he wants to vote for. "I don’t care about all the other, I can save you £2 a month and all that crap," he said. Ed Davey is the only one who’s actually got any heart."

Kingston town centre
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has been the MP for Kingston and Surbiton since 2017 and served in the role from 1997 to 2015 -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

But Beryl Walker, 86, from Hampton Wick, Richmond, slammed Mr Davey's stunts. She told the LDRS: "I wouldn’t vote Lib Dem and I don’t like the way they’re conducting their campaign. I think they’re making Ed Davey look an idiot."

Ms Walker, a lifelong Conservative voter, is planning to switch to the Green Party, co-led by Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, for the first time as she praised its 'ethos'. She said: "The Labour manifesto is yet to come out but I’m not likely to vote for them and I’m not going to vote Conservative and I normally would, so I think it will be Green Party."

She added: "I don’t like Rishi Sunak and I don’t like a lot of them. I don’t like the sleaze and the lies, but then it’s in every party. I’m a member of the old school where you say it as it is and I feel cynical and disillusioned by the whole lot."

Bill Thistleton, 67, in Kingston town centre
Bill Thistleton, 67, said he is planning to vote for Reform UK as he wants a 'refresh' -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Bill Thistleton, 67, from Kingston, is another lifelong Conservative voter turning away from the party this election, although he said he does not believe in 'giving up'. He is planning to vote for Reform UK, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, as he said the country needs a 'refresh'. Mr Farage announced on June 3 he would be taking over as the new leader of Reform UK and that he would stand for election in Clacton, Essex.

Mr Thistleton said he is not voting for Reform UK because he wants the party to 'take a hard line stance on everything' but because he wants a leader who is 'honest'. He said: "I voted Tory... when I was growing up because my mother was a Tory, I didn’t understand it to be honest, because it was cool... but then when they stand in front of you and blatantly think either you’re an idiot or… whatever, it’s gone too far. We need to get our country back."

Mr Thistleton added: "If [all the parties] got together, it would be a landslide - have a unity party of all different cultures that sit down around the table and remember where you are, when in Rome do as the Romans do… and charity begins at home.

"If you look after the people that are here, and been living here and born here, the English are very patient and they’re very giving... but we’re losing it now, we’re losing everything, we’re losing values, we’re losing respect. I’m never going to say it’s out of hand because you can get it back, there’s always plenty of time to turn everything around, but for the right reasons."

Surdat Masude, 82, in Kingston town centre
Surdat Masude, 82, said he does not know yet who he will vote for in the election -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Meanwhile David Batar, 36, from Kingston, is a lifelong Tory voter and is sticking by the party at this election. "I think because they have good values in place," he said. "Labour - not really."

Other voters expressed uncertainty over who they are planning to vote for. Surdat Masude, 82, from Surbiton, voted Lib Dem in the last election but does not know who he will vote for this time. The pensioner said he is particularly concerned about paying higher income tax when considering which issues affect him most.

In the Richmond borough, Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson is standing for re-election in Twickenham, which she held with a majority of 14,121 in 2019. Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney is also standing again in Richmond Park, which she won from the Conservatives with a majority of 7,766 in the last general election.

Got a story? Email

Don't miss out on the biggest local stories. Sign up to our MySouthLondon newsletter HERE for all the latest daily news and more.