Political constituency focus: People in Morley and Outwood have their say on the vital issues
It’s famously been dubbed Britain’s most patriotic town, so you’d hope people in Morley cared deeply about the future of how our country is governed.
The Morley and Outwood seat has an unusual political identity. Five of Morley’s six Leeds council seats are held by a group of independents, while the “Outwood” part falls under the jurisdiction of Wakefield Council.
The constituency was held for Labour by erstwhile shadow chancellor Ed Balls, until a shock result in 2015 handed the seat to Conservative Andrea Jenkyns.
Jenkyns, an ardent Brexiteer, then increased her majority in the 2017 vote. But this was still only to 2,104 votes, and challenger Labour’s Deanne Ferguson will feel that a strong campaign could see her challenging for the seat.
But what are the issues that are important to the people of Morley? Of those I spoke to during a drizzly Friday morning, there seemed only to be two subjects dominating this election: Brexit and Labour’s manifesto promises.
Carl Yarwood is a cobbler who works in Queen Street. He believes parliament’s failure to take Britain out of the EU over the past three and a half years has damaged trust in politicians.
“They are fighting like little kids,” he said. “My children are better behaved than they are – why don’t they get their heads together and sort out Brexit?
“We have people who want to come out, and people who want to stay in, which is fine, but we are a democratic country. The politicians are now squabbling among themselves, but Brexit is Brexit and we need to come out.
“We have a beautiful country,” he added. “We can live off our land. We are one of the richest countries in the world and we have food banks – it’s ridiculous!
His colleague, Morley resident Andy Morell, added: “Labour say they will give everyone free broadband, but they don’t have the infrastructure – some parts of the UK don’t even have internet, let alone fibre broadband.
“You are fighting a losing battle with politicians – they are not held accountable.”
James Shield is a 30-year-old father of one, who is no fan of Boris Johnson.
“You would hope that anyone else would be put in place,” he said. “But the way people vote, it has to be the majority, and it seems to be 50-50.
“I like Jeremy Corbyn – I know people describe him as over the top, but he’s better than Boris!”
Some felt that whichever government gets elected, they needed to represent the interests of the elderly.
“Britain has done a lot for me over the years,” said Irishwoman Eileen Todd, who moved to Morley in 1960. “We had a hard time finding work in Ireland, and this country has done me good.”
Eileen is a charity volunteer, and thinks the issue of free TV licences for the elderly is more important than many people think.
She said: “I would like to see them bring back the free TV licences.
“I think it’s important when you have worked all your life. There are a lot of lonely people who are older.”
I interrupted Myra Corr while she was reading her book at the bus stop. She told me she wasn’t planning on voting this time.
“I voted Labour all my life,” Myra added. “But now I don’t trust one of them.
“Where are they going to get all the money from? Look at Tony Blair – they could not afford it so they stopped it.”
A passer-by then responded to her: “Everything Labour has given us in their last government, the tories have taken away.
“Do you agree with children freezing and starving? Because that is what we have had in the past 10 years.”
Ms Corr concluded: “Back in the 1960s, we thought we were going to change the world, but we didn’t. I think [Corbyn] wants to be rebellious like that.”
Walking into a models shop further down Queen Street, I was met by owner Kevin Peat – he wants a government who will make Brexit happen, as he is excited about the opportunities it could create for the country.
“I think it’s our age group,” he said. “A lot of the younger people don’t realise how Britain was when it stood on its own two feet.
“Manufacturing was fantastic and there was plenty of work. You could walk out of a job on Friday and have one somewhere else the following Monday.”
Standing in Morley and Outwood for the 2019 General Election:
Green – Chris Bell
Liberal Democrats – Craig Dobson
Labour – Deanne Ferguson
Conservative – Andrea Jenkyns
Yorkshire Party – Dan Woodlock