St Austell and Newquay: Youngsters want to see the back of the Tories in the General Election

The clock is ticking and the General Election looms closer each day. With the future of our country being tugged in all directions, we've been visiting the different Cornish constituencies to get a flavour of how people are feeling ahead of the big day.

What pressing matters are weighing on their minds, what do they think of party policies and what change would they like to see in the country? During my recent visit to St Austell and Newquay, I left with the impression that people are feeling pretty torn this time and just don't know who to trust and what to believe.

The seat held by Tory incumbent Steve Double for the past nine years, the latest YouGov poll suggests that Labour will just edge it with 33.5 per cent of the vote compared to the Conservatives 26.5 per cent. But on the streets, people don't know where to turn. That's unless it's the youngsters who, fearing for their futures, are keen for a change - whatever that change may bring.

READ MORE: Cornwall General Election 2024 - photo ID, how to find polling stations and more

READ MORE: St Austell and Newquay candidates for General Election 2024

On the streets of two of Cornwall's largest towns and one of its more unusual constituencies, given it is straddled across both coasts where priorities are very different, it's fair to say there is a real divide when it comes down to voting. If our visit was anything to go off it could still go either way.

On the high street of St Austell, Denis McLean, 78, tells us "I just don't believe them". As a retiree in his later years, he said pensions and the NHS remain hot topics of conversation in his household. From Surrey, he currently lives in St Austell and has done so only since after Steve Double took the seat.

He's a lifelong labour supporter who grew up in a mining area but this time around he's swaying the other way and thinks he will vote Conservative. It's because he's not impressed with Keir Stamer's gaffe about scrapping the pension lump sum allowance, something the Labour leader has since changed his mind on.

Denis Mclean from St Austell
Denis is worried about pension tax plans -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

"My health declined after the pandemic and I'll be heading back home to Surrey soon," Mr McLean said. "I'm a bit sceptical about Rishi Sunak and all these pension promises. I don't believe them and I do feel he's well known for lies but there is a lot I like about him.

"He's dynamic, charismatic and he's always got a quick answer or a quick avoidance procedure. I like the guy but I'm not convinced about his politics."

He fears the Tories are tempting people like him with policies because he's a pensioner. "I'm comfortable, but it would be nice to know the 'triple lock' pension will keep money in my pocket.

"I like what [Rishi Sunak] is saying about it and he's promising a lot of good things but basically it comes down to whether I can trust them to actually deliver it and I don't know if I can."

In terms of local candidates he said he's not very computer savvy and hasn't seen any of the candidates canvassing in his area, so isn't able to make a judgement based on that. "I'd like to have met someone and questioned them on some of their policies but that hasn't happened," he said.

What do other parts of Cornwall have to say? Read about the other constituencies here...

Kaitlyn Murray, 15, might not be able to vote yet but she's got some strong views about this upcoming election. Living between London and Cornwall, and having just finished secondary school, she's not very impressed with the Conservative's plans to bring back National Service, something that could really affect her in the coming years.

"I don't particularly like Rishi Sunak and I don't think people should be doing National Sevice when they turn 18 because not everyone will want to do that," she said. "I want to be a police officer when I'm older so personally that will be interrupted and I'm sure other people's lives will be interrupted in terms of what they want to do by having to do national service.

Kaitlyn Murray
Kaitlyn isn't allowed to vote yet - but this General Election could really impact her future -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

She said she feels it is "wrong" that people might receive a fine just not partaking because it interferes with their life plans. Yet she's well aware she's not able to have a say in something that will affect her in the coming years should the Conservatives win.

"I don't really have an opinion on the rest and don't follow it that much but I just think not many people want to do National Service and I just think that's wrong, to be honest."

In Newquay, people gave the impression of a similar divide. Of those we did speak to, many either weren't keen to vote at all or were still seemingly on the fence about which way to go.

James Kerwin, 63, grew up in one of the most deprived areas of Cornwall, St Blazey, and now lives in St Austell. He said he couldn't see the point in voting as he didn't feel it would make a difference.

James Kerwin
James doesn't see the point in voting -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

"I've never voted and all of it is just... there's never any change," he said. And he's not alone, plenty of other people weren't even interested in the General Election and simply didn't want to talk about it.

Thomas Collins, 78, has lived in Newquay for many years and he knows what he plans to do - he'll be voting Conservative. Now retired, he's worked all kinds of jobs from nursing to lorry driving in his lifetime, said: "A big thing for me is policing. You never see a policeman anymore.

"I've lived here for about 30 years. I think we could do with a hell of a lot more policing in the area and I think people could do with learning some more manners too," he said of his wants for the future of the country.

Thomas Collins
More police are needed on Newquay's streets, says Thomas -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

"I'm going for Rishi Sunak. I think Keir Starmer will make a hell of a mess of the country, I really do. I used to be Labour years ago but I've been Conservative for years now.

"I think it's the best way to go and I think things will take a turn, I really do." He said he'd also like to see the NHS "sorted out" and thinks the Tories are the ones to do that.

"I think our local councils should be putting more money towards the hospitals and our nurses. It's getting bad."

But the younger generation, they want significant change to be a part of their futures and can't see the Conservatives getting them there. We bumped into three Newquay teenagers who it's fair to say won't be giving Steve Double their vote.

Sienna Charlton, 19, would love to vote Green but says she'll be going down the tactical voting route and ticking the Labour box come July 4. "I'm not really into politics and I didn't know much about it until recently but on my side, it's more about the tactical voting. As long as it isn't the Tories I'm not too fussed.

"I think we need different people [in charge] and I want change. I would like to vote for Green but they don't have much of a chance here so my tactical vote would be Labour, although I'm still not entirely happy with Labour. It's the second-best thing really for me wanting a change."

Pictured are Sienna Charlton, 19, Evan Moyle, 18 and Luca Stokes, 18, all of Newquay.
Sienna Charlton, 19, Evan Moyle, 18 and Luca Stokes, 18, will all be voting in their first General Election -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

Evan Moyle and Luca Stokes, both 18, will be voting for Green on the day. Evan said: "I turned 18 this year and this is my first real chance to vote and I'm voting Green. It's always been Conservative and Labour and I just want to see something else.

"Green is the party I most agree with and I want to see what they will do if they get into power. I think we need something different and something to change after all these years."

Luca added: "I'm going Green because it's the lesser of all of the evils. The reason I'm going for them and not tactically voting is because I believe that's how you get the people you don't want in power."

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