General election 2017: 'Why I switched from Tories to Labour'

David ManningImage source, David Manning
Image caption,
David Manning, 64, voted Labour in Plymouth despite usually supporting the Conservatives

Theresa May remains prime minister despite disappointing election results for the Conservatives.

After calling the election in search of an increased majority, the Conservatives have emerged with 13 fewer seats than they held at the start of the campaign.

Labour - widely expected to lose seats to the Tories - made a net gain of 30 seats.

Of those seats it won, 28 came from the Conservatives, while of those it lost, six went in the other direction.

The BBC has spoken to former Tory voters in some of those lost seats to find out why they changed their minds.

David Manning, 64, has supported the Conservatives for most of his life. Living in the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency, he was among the voters who helped Labour candidate Luke Pollard take the seat from Conservative Oliver Colvile - increasing Labour's share of the vote by 16.7%.

A retired teacher, he says the idea that he would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party was laughable at the beginning of the campaign.

"I was even ridiculing him," he told the BBC.

"At the start of the campaign I was totally against Jeremy Corbyn. My switch from blue to red was a surprise even to myself.

"However, as the campaign progressed I warmed to him and cooled to Mrs May."

David has voted for Labour only once before, when Tony Blair was leading the party.

"Mrs May was wooden and lacked charisma," he said.

"And having witnessed first hand the way education has been dismantled by the Tories, I concluded that the alternative Labour was offering was far better for the country.

"I've watched my partner's school become an academy and have the money sucked out of it.

"I read every manifesto and asked myself an honest question: 'What do I think is best for the country?'

"I believe in Labour's manifesto."

David believes there has been a shift in public opinion and he thinks that is a trend which could continue.

Labour's victory in Canterbury - achieved with a majority of just 187 but representing a 21% swing from 2015 - suggests he could be right.

The Kent seat had been held by the Conservatives since 1918. Sir Julian Brazier - the sitting Conservative MP - had represented the area since 1987. New York based Financial Times columnist John Authers described Labour's victory there as the "rough equivalent, in US terms, of Democrats taking Texas".

Image source, Sharon and Michael Dawson
Image caption,
Sharon and Michael Dawson both voted for Labour candidate Rosie Duffield in Canterbury, Kent.

Sharon Dawson and her husband Michael voted for Labour. In the past they have voted for both the main parties. Sharon voted Labour in 2015 while Michael plumped for the Conservatives.

"We are pleased but very surprised," Sharon said. "With such a big majority we didn't really think it would happen."

Sharon is a teacher, while Michael is a microbiologist working in the NHS. Both said that austerity played a key role in their decision to support Labour.

"To lose more funding for us would basically mean losing teachers," Sharon said.

"You can only save so much in the NHS before you have to start making cutbacks to critical services," Michael added.

"The cuts have to stop."

Kent is one of the few parts of the country where a grammar school system still operates. Though popular with some, a Conservative commitment to expanding the selective school system - reaffirmed in the manifesto - has also drawn significant criticism, not least from within the Conservative Party itself.

"I don't think having more grammar schools will improve education for all," Sharon said.

"In a fair system all students should be offered the same level of education and educational experiences."

"The Tory manifesto wasn't for the people," Michael said.

"It was for the rich, the upper class. You look at the Tory potential spend on the NHS and compare it to what Labour were proposing and the Labour plans are much more viable. The NHS is in crisis."

Sharon says that in the week leading up to the election, rumours circulating on social media pointed to a tight result in Canterbury. But they were still caught off guard when the ballots had been counted.

"Did I think Labour could win Canterbury? Hell no!" said Michael.

"People are sick of austerity. I thought there might be a swing to Labour but to win was a shock."

In Kensington, London, the result was perhaps even more dramatic.

After several recounts, Labour candidate Emma Dent Coad was declared the winner, defeating Conservative Victoria Borwick by just 20 votes. Ms Borwick's share of the vote dropped by more than 10% while Ms Dent Coad saw Labour's vote climb by more than 11%.

Kensington and Chelsea voted overwhelmingly to remain in the 2016 EU referendum, with almost 69% of voters opting to maintain Britain's EU membership.

Some social media users have declared the electoral upset in Kensington, where the Liberal Democrats also increased their vote share by close to 7%, the "revenge of the remainers".

Lorna, 58, voted against the Conservatives for the first time in her life.

"Victoria Borwick is particularly pro-Brexit so doesn't represent her constituency," she said.

"I think Brexit is nuts."

Lorna did not vote for Labour, but instead opted for a pro-remain independent. A number of the voters the BBC spoke to in the area told similar stories.

One 54-year-old man, who did not want to be named, said that he had voted for the Conservatives in the last eight elections but switched to the Liberal Democrats because "I am a remainer and I didn't like Theresa May's rhetoric".

Labour voter Gabriela Sexton said she was "delighted" with the result.

"The borough of Kensington was incredibly complacent," she said.

"No one ever came to see us from the Tory party [during the campaign]."

Image caption,
Briony Jones has lived in Kensington for 50 years.

Briony Jones normally votes for the Green Party, but chose to opt for Labour in this election.

"I think change is good because we have never had a MP of a different complexion to the council," she said.

"I thought actually who had the most chance [of winning] and I read up on Emma Dent Coad and I liked what I read.

"I'm jolly pleased."

By Chris Bell, UGC and Social News team. Additional reporting by Emma Harrison