A look ahead with voters in the Liverpool Walton constituency: ‘Elections aren’t won and lost in Walton’

The battles between blue and red in Liverpool Walton have previously been limited to the spars between the city’s two major football teams.

Even then, the Reds have often come up on top more often than not.

Politically however, there has never been much of a contest with Labour’s red rosette fully in bloom in what was deemed one of the safest seats in the country during the 2019 general election. Dan Carden romped home for a second term with 85% of the vote and a majority of 30,000.

With the polls consistently indicating Keir Starmer’s party will turf Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives out of government for the first time in 14 years, it appears Labour are on course to keep a tight grip on Walton and march into Downing Street in the process.

With boundary changes meaning Anfield and Goodison Park move out of the constituency, is enthusiasm for the current opposition going with it?

To find out, the LDRS spent time talking to voters to find out what mattered to them with just weeks to go until the polls open.

County Road is one of Liverpool’s most famous locations. A thoroughfare from the north of the city limits to its centre, it has a bustling heart and energy all of its own.

In its shadow sits the home of Everton FC, Goodison Park, among famous and heralded terraced streets that have become synonymous with a way of life in the city. Walking from the Black Horse pub at one end to the Thomas Frost at the other just short of a mile away, you would be forgiven for thinking the general election hadn’t been called.

There were no party posters adorning windows or canvassers walking the streets. Despite Labour’s lengthy and tightened grip on the area, it is not without its issues.

A study by the House of Commons in 2019 found the area was one of the five most deprived communities nationwide while the city council has grappled with losing more than half a billion in funding since 2010.

Waiting for business near to the Everton Free School and the Lidl supermarket, taxi driver John Doolan, 62, paraphrased Labour’s 1997 anthem in his assessment of the issues facing the community.

He said, “I don’t get involved with it, it doesn’t interest me. My dad was a big Labour man but I watched it as a kid and it frustrated me.

“Nothing’s going to change, they’re all the same. I’d like to say I’d go Labour but nothing gets better. We’ve never been worse off, the NHS has been run down. I’m 62 years old and I can’t even get a dentist.”

Across the road from where John waited for his next customer is The Block. The armed forces veterans organisation offers support, emergency accommodation, coffee mornings, drop ins, signposting, workshops, courses, retreats and more.

Since forming in November 2020, they have helped countless former service personnel. One of the charity’s volunteers, Craig, told the LDRS about how he had been turned off from the impending election and how more needed to be done to support those who had served their country.

He said, “Veterans issues need to be improved. Mental health and housing are the big ones for us.

“We have helped so many people with real problems. I don’t really watch the news any more, it’s put me off. I don’t even know who is running.”

A little over four miles away across the constituency is Clock Tower Park in Fazakerley. In March, Mr Carden relocated his office to the site at the very edge of the area’s boundary and will in all likelihood spend five more years in situ.

Fazakerley Community Federation

Directly across the road on Formosa Drive is the Fazakerley Community Federation and library and community hub. Jamie Stinchcomb, who helps run the Fazakerley Morris Dancing group at the centre, said a future Labour government was what the country needed.

He said, “The NHS is done, it’s bad, the funding is the issue. I know it’s hard but it needs investment, not just for children but in social care.

“Since the Tories came in, everything’s been starting to go, libraries have been cut, schools are underfunded. Housing is an issue as well.”

Jamie also gave his view on Keir Starmer as a potential Prime Minister. He added, “I think he’ll do good. I think a Labour government will do good, we need it.

“People are being left behind, the rich are fine but poorer people are struggling. A Labour government will be a positive start.”

Across the courtyard in the library, service user Phil was clear eyed about the constituency’s role in the wider electoral process nationally. He said, “Elections aren’t won and lost in Walton.

“It might help with the majority and they’ll take our votes. If I do vote, it will be for Reform.

“I think Starmer is electable but I don’t think Corbyn was. I don’t care where you’re from, the back end of Bootle or Eton, just run the country properly.”

One of the players at Fazakerley Federation’s afternoon bingo session told the LDRS immigration was at the top of her list of priorities. She said, “I’m Labour no matter what but they all say the same thing.

“Look at the NHS, it’s been run into the ground, you can’t get an appointment, I’ve been waiting two years.

“I think we’ll always be Labour in Liverpool but we always get ignored because the Tories don’t like us. I’ll vote Labour but I know they’re not much good.”

The Monday Ladies Club weren’t backwards about coming forwards and were all previous Labour voters.

One said she wasn’t sold on Keir Starmer yet, “I don’t know what I think of him. I think he’s just saying what he thinks people want to hear, he’s got no plans now. He stands up for the strikers.”

One of the women sitting in the library among friends floated an alternative person to run the country.

“I like (Nigel) Farage, he should be PM. He says what people think.”

The full list of candidates for the Liverpool Walton constituency are:

Dan Carden – Labour
Sean Cadwallader – Liberal Democrats
Joseph Doran – Reform UK
Billy Lake – The Liberal Party
Martyn Madeley – Green Party
Emma Ware – Conservatives

Image: County Road

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