Bury UK polls
A woman enjoys a cigarette and a cup of coffee in the outdoor seating of a cafe in a pedestrianised area of the town centre of Bury, northwest England, on June 13, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Bury, UK: The town of Bury in northwest England is usually best known for its traditional local dish, black pudding.

But as the most marginal constituency in the country it has found itself in the political spotlight in the run up to the UK’s July 4 election.

Won by the Conservatives by just 105 votes last time round in 2019, it is no coincidence that the political big guns from both main parties have all visited recently.

Given its wafer-thin majority, the seat is firmly on Labour’s target list of constituencies it must win back if party leader Keir Starmer is to secure the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made the trip but, just as elsewhere in the country, many traditional Tory supporters will not be giving the party their vote this time.

“I’m going to vote for Labour,” said one-time Conservative voter Frank Haslam.

The last time he voted Labour was “probably” in 1997 when Tony Blair was leader but he is adamant that the Conservatives do not deserve his support this time round.

“Everything has gone down. There’s nothing good for the future I can see,” he said.

Bury UK polls
A woman walks through the closed market in the town centre of Bury, northwest England, on June 13, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Haslam cites immigration as a major concern. “The Conservatives said they would stop it and they didn’t. They should stop it,” he said.

He said he was also concerned about the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), which currently has long waiting lists for treatment.

The system was under pressure, he said, but private medical insurance “costs an absolute fortune”.


The Conservatives will not be able to count on the support of Lesley Callaghan either.

She will vote for Reform UK, Nigel Farage’s nationalist, populist anti-immigration party, which has just overtaken the Conservatives for the first time in an opinion poll.

“I did vote Conservative but they’ve had plenty of time to try to correct things and it’s not better,” said the 58-year-old retiree, who used to work in human resources.

“I just want to go for somebody else now who possibly might do something with immigration policy,” she said, adding that the issue should be a priority for the next government.

Health was also a priority for her, she said, as well as fixing potholes, a problem that has become synonymous with a sense that the country is not functioning as it should.

“This party promises you this and that party promises you that and after, nothing happens”, said fishmonger Sharon Hallows, who will still vote despite a sense of disillusionment.

“I have the right to vote so I’m going to use that,” she said.

Usually a Labour voter whose priority is the NHS, she is not sure yet who she will support.

“I’m worried. All the people waiting for 12 hours in a corridor (for treatment). I know people who have been waiting in ambulances for three hours.

“Twenty years ago, we would never have had anything like that,” she said.

No trust

Saqib Ibrahim, 23, an optician’s assistant, said he was “losing hope in this country”.

“A lot of people are struggling with bills” while taxes kept rising and the roads were in a “terrible” state, he said.

“We pay tax for no reason. I don’t know if I’m going to vote. They are all the same,” he added.

Away from the centre of Bury, even in more affluent parts of the constituency, the answers showed little difference.

In a cafe visited by Sunak on his visit last month, some people said they simply would not vote for parties that they saw as “all the same”.

One couple, Labour supporters in their 70s, however, said they still planned to turn out on July 4.

“It’s atrocious what the Conservatives have done in the last 14 years,” said Lynn Greenwood, a former social worker.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, dismissing the party’s three most recent leaders as “Bojo (Boris Johnson), the liar”, Liz Truss “who bombed the economy” and “multimillionaire” Sunak.

“It’s very difficult for him to understand how people feel,” she said of Sunak.

She had little more enthusiasm for Labour, adding that party leader Starmer “is not going to change anything”.

Her husband, Paul Greenwood, said he would vote Labour but was no fan of Starmer, whom he judged to be too far to the right of the party.