I spent the day in Leicester East ahead of the general election and it is definitely a battleground

With the election just days away and polls predicting Sir Keir Starmer being elected in a landslide you wouldn't think a constituency that has elected a Labour candidate in every election since 1987 would be described as a battleground.

But that's exactly what Leicester East feels like, with the current MP and a former MP going toe to toe with Labour, the Tories and a host of popular independents. As part of our 5000 Voices project with other titles across the country, we have been travelling to constituencies across the East Midlands to find out which issues matter most.

And in the constituency where Keith Vaz, former Labour minister, and Claudia Webbe, the last MP who was kicked out of the Labour Party after she was convicted of harassment, are standing many people had strong views.

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Upon arriving, it was clear the constituency is a battleground. In Melton Road, there are posters in almost every shop window backing different candidates. There are even billboard-size posters promoting candidates. Supporters of each candidate truly believe they could win.

We first asked voters to describe Rishi Sunak. For the most part, the Prime Minister attracted support.

Ruksar Shaikh, 25, is a student at the University of Leicester. She said she was proud of Rishi Sunak for his achievements. However, she feels restricted by the new rules for international students.

Jafpal Bawa, 75, is retired. He shared admiration for the Prime Minister. However, he believed his time was up.

He said: “Rishi Sunak is doing good you know. But uh, some of his policies are not good so. I think there should be a change now. It’s [been] a long long time now, and some other party should come in and do better.”

We then asked voters to describe Sir Keir Starmer. For some, the Labour leader was not known to them. However, from those who know who he is, there was a mixed response.

Anel Bakhter, 53, said: “He’s alright. He’s a socialist. He’ll do it for the working people instead of the rich people.” Jill Warner, 75, was slightly more suspicious. She is not convinced he will keep to his promises, describing him as the same as the PM."

She said: “He’s the same. Same thing. Again, he’ll say and do what he’s going to do, but if he does them is a different story altogether.”

Next, we asked voters what the most important issues are to them in this election. For many, there are concerns surrounding the NHS, housing and immigration.

Ms Warner said: “The boat people more than anything. And pensioners, because everybody seems to have forgotten pensioners exist to be fair.”

Ruksar Shaikh, 25, claims that overcrowding is becoming an issue for public services and jobs. She said: “There are so many people that have already come here now. So, it’s really crowded and that’s why it’s really hard to get jobs and good opportunities here.”

Jafpal Bawa, 75, shared his experience trying to get a house from Leicester City Council. He believes the housing crisis is one of the biggest issues facing the country.

He said: “I’m not getting a home. I applied for a home in the Leicester council you know, and they’re not providing me a home. There is a shortage of homes everywhere you know. That’s the main issue.”

Finally, we ask voters how the next government can improve our education system. Most people shared the belief that there is work to be done.

Hasmukh Vyas, 64 is a pharmacist. He believes the core subjects have fallen behind. He said: “I think we need to invest more in teaching, we need some more teachers in maths, physics and chemistry.”

Anel Bakhter, 53, said: “More teachers. It’s a lack of teachers. And a lack of qualified teachers.”

The General Election takes place on Thursday, July 4, with polling stations open between 7am and 10pm. A total of ten candidates are standing for election. They are:


Malihah Adam


Nagarjun Agath


Rajesh Agrawal

Liberal Democrats

Zuffar Haq

Green Party

Mags Lewis


Khandu Patel


Shivani Raja

Reform UK

Raj Solanki

One Leicester

Keith Vaz


Claudia Webbe

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