Election 2019

General election 2019: Rother Valley voters on Conservative win

Audrey Smith
Image caption "I think now we just have to leave Boris Johnson to get on with it," says former Labour supporter Audrey Smith

A century of Labour support drained away from Rother Valley overnight to leave the Conservatives in charge of this former mining community in the South Yorkshire coalfields. What changed?

The area around Maltby has been a Labour heartland since the Rother Valley constituency came into being at the end of World War One.

And as Boris Johnson hailed the biggest Conservative majority in decades, the seat, for the first time in its 101-year history, swapped from red to blue.

For a former mining area deep in Labour's traditional northern power base, this would have once been an unimaginable proposition; bitter memories of Margaret Thatcher and the miners' strike helped to sustain and strengthen Labour rule and the bonds between generations of voters.

However, among the few shoppers braving Maltby's cold and wet high street on Friday the result doesn't seem to have come as a surprise.

Image caption A pit wheel forms part of a memorial to Maltby colliery and the miners who worked there

In a bright Labour-red coat Audrey Smith proudly declares that she voted Conservative for the first time.

"Yesterday I went down the the cricket club at Wickersley and voted Conservative and it felt marvellous," she says.

The 86-year-old has made her way to the polling station in every election during her lifetime and each time ticked the Labour box .

"I've voted Labour all my life but I just couldn't put my faith in Corbyn," she adds.

"I think now we just have to leave Boris Johnson to get on with it and we'll be all right."

Even for those residents in the town who continued to pledge Labour support, they say it was to honour the party rather than the leader.

Image caption Albert Sanderson, pictured with his wife Pauline, worked at the colliery which employed thousands in Maltby for 102 years

"Labour didn't lose this election, it was Corbyn," says former miner Albert Sanderson.

"I voted Labour but it wasn't a surprise that the Tories got in. Labour's majority here has been sliding over the years.

"It's a former mining town but a lot of the older people connected to the mines have died so we now have a younger generation who didn't know that life."

Rother Valley vote share

Vote share

Party % share
Conservative 45.1%
Labour 32.1%
The Brexit Party 12.9%
Liberal Democrat 5.2%
Green 2.5%
Independent 2.1%

Vote share change since 2017

  • The Brexit Party +12.9 Gained
  • Conservative +4.8 Gained
  • Liberal Democrat +2.9 Gained
  • Independent +2.1 Gained
  • Green +0.7 Gained
  • Labour -16.0 Lost

If you cannot see the graphic click here

The 82-year-old believes Jeremy Corbyn's muddled stance on Brexit was the main reason people here switched political stance.

Rother Valley was a Leave stronghold, with 66.7% people voting for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

"Corbyn sat on the fence," says Mr Sanderson. "At least Boris Johnson has been up front and said he will get us out and I think that's what people wanted to hear.

"I personally voted for Remain but I do think when we leave Europe we will be fine."

Image caption 'Instead of fighting this, let's all work together' says 27-year-old Arron Colley

Arron Colley believes politicians now need to work on uniting the country and investing more in struggling communities like Maltby.

The 27-year-old, who volunteers in the town's New 2 You community charity shop, says "everyone has had their say".

"It may not have gone my way but we have to deal with what happens now," he says.

"Those who voted Tory are still my friends, those who voted Labour are my friends.

"Instead of fighting this, let's all work together. Everyone needs to be accounted for and not left alone anymore."

Image caption Bethany Vaughan has plans to join the police force and hopes the Tories keep their promise to invest in more officers

Among the town's younger generation, Bethany Vaughan cast her vote for the first time.

"I'm for Brexit and voted Tory so for me I'm really happy with the result," says the 18-year-old.

"I'm planning for my future so the selection was really important."

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