The South London constituency that's been Tory for 50 years but locals say Rishi Sunak is 'out of touch'

Voters in a South London constituency that has been Conservative for over 50 years have said they feel Rishi Sunak is 'out of touch' but they have 'always got time' for Boris Johnson.

The Orpington seat, the east of Bromley borough, was created in 1945. It has been represented by the Conservative Party for its entire existence, aside from Liberal MP Eric Lubbock’s brief tenure between 1962 and 1970.

David Payne, 69, has lived in Orpington for over 60 years and said the handling of pensions was his biggest priority for the upcoming election. The Conservative Party’s manifesto claimed no new taxes on pensions would be introduced, while Labour’s manifesto claimed the state pension would increase in line with inflation.

Mr Payne said: "I do watch the debates on the telly and I normally vote Conservative, but this is the first time I'm having issues with the prime minister. I may change my allegiance and go to the Liberal Democrats. No disrespect to any of them, but I do not trust Labour."

He added: "I don't think [Rishi Sunak] is in touch with the normal, common people like myself. I cannot believe he did what he did the other week when he came home early from D-Day. It’s been 80 years for those poor guys. I lost my grandfather in the Second World War. So it's all those people, to me, he's disrespected by coming home early."

READ MORE: 'My son hasn't been to school in over 2 years - I'm at my wits' end over ongoing dispute'

David Payne poses for photos in Orpington in London, Britain 17 June 2024. Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon
David Payne, 69, said the handling of pensions was his biggest priority -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Patricia Bentley, 73, has lived in the area for nearly 50 years and said she was also unsure who to vote for. She said she felt the number of people claiming benefits needed to be cut back to allow funds to support other public services.

She said: "It’s that magic word, mental health. Mental health can get you anything. I feel sorry for people like that, I’ve suffered myself, but I think it does need a good overhaul… People like the NHS when it's helping them. When it's not, they run it down like hell. My daughter’s a nurse and what she has to put up with up there, with insults and being hit."

She added: "With Boris [Johnson], I've always got time for him. I know people said he was a fool and all this, but when Covid was there, he was stepping up."

Patricia Bentley poses for photos in Orpington in London, Britain 17 June 2024. Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon
Patricia Bentley, 73, said she felt the number of people claiming benefits needed to be cut back -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

HT Farmer, 76, has lived in St Mary Cray with his wife Angela-Joyce, 76, for most of their lives. The couple cited immigration as a priority for them, as they felt it had impacted NHS waiting lists over recent years.

Mr Farmer said: "Three times we went for blood tests, you can’t get a blood test at all until we were informed that there were thousands of people trying to get them so it's going to be months. Ridiculous. If you want a doctor’s appointment it’s two weeks. There are too many people and not enough resources."

Data from Electoral Calculus suggests that the Conservatives will narrowly retain the Orpington seat in this year’s General Election by a 0.5 per cent margin. Irene Wilson, 71, has lived in Orpington for 40 years and said she wants a government that prioritises transparency to the public.

'I’m not keen on any of them, to be honest'

HT Farmer and Angela Joyce Farmer pose for photos in Orpington in London, Britain 17 June 2024. Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon
Angela Joyce Farmer, 76, and HT Farmer, 76, said immigration is a key issue for them in this upcoming election -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

She said: "Just tell us the truth. Honest to God, I have no idea who I am going to vote for. I don't like the Conservatives. I'm not that keen on Labour. I don't like the Greens, I don’t like any of them. The one that sounds better at the moment is Labour, although I’m not keen on any of them, to be honest."

She added: "With the Conservatives, how many prime ministers have we had? I mean that’s stupid isn’t it? That’s wrong, and none of them have done us any good. All the years they have been with us, it's just got worse. We've gone down and down with the economy and everything. So I just want someone to give us a better life."

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