Battle for Yorkshire mining seat of Rother Valley where old certainties mean nowt

Like most coal mining communities, Rother Valley is a solid, safe Labour seat. Yet beneath the veneer of bucolic south Yorkshire countryside, an ideological battle is raging to turn this historic working-class heartland blue.

Rother Valley may have been held by the Labour Party ever since its creation in 1918, but residents believe that the demise of Ukip may prove pivotal — and could even swing it to the Conservatives.

The little-known seat is the southernmost seat in south Yorkshire and where the former foreign secretary William Hague, now Lord Hague of Richmond, grew up. It is historically working class, with its mining heritage never far from the forefront of voters’ minds.

A huge 67 per cent of constituents voted for Brexit. Many think that Jeremy Corbyn is a “muppet” and Theresa May just “another Maggie”. Nonetheless, with Brexit voted through, there is a belief that many Ukip votes will be swallowed up by the Conservatives.

Bethan Eddy, 30, the Tory candidate, is used to campaigning. When she’s not knocking on doors to rack up her own votes, she works as chief of staff for her mother, Amanda Solloway, the Conservative candidate for Derby North, who has a majority of just 41.

“I would say it’s going to be quite close between Labour and Conservative,” she says, sitting next to a mound of leaflets in her office in Sheffield. “Politics is in an interesting time at the moment. Who would have thought Brexit would have happened or Trump would be in power? You can’t predict what’s happening in politics so all you can do is try and get the message out that Theresa May is the best person to negotiate Brexit.”

She says she will fight for every vote but insisted: “I would not be doing this if I didn’t think there was a chance of winning.”

The incumbent, Kevin Barron, is not so sure. “Numerically, yes” he says when asked if the Tories could win by luring over Ukip voters. “But a lack of activity by the Conservatives does not suggest they are working towards that whatsoever.”

In the 2015 general election Labour won 20,501 votes in Rother Valley, followed by Ukip which won 13,204. Next came the Conservatives with 10,945 votes.

Walking along a rainy high street in the former colliery town of Dinnington yesterday, Geoffrey Doughty is not shy in sharing his views of politicians’ efforts. “I’m of the age now where I have seen these lying toads for the last 60 years. It doesn’t matter what party they are.” The 87-year-old retired engineer is a staunch Ukip voter who was pleased with the European referendum result. “I like the way Ukip think,” he says. “I should be Conservative — I’ve been in business all my life. I will vote Ukip again because they are totally right about everything — immigration, the lot. But I think a lot of Ukip voters will vote Tory now because we have achieved the aim of Brexit.”

Claire Cadmen, 37, who owns a shop selling children’s clothes, is sat with friends outside a café taking shelter from the drizzle. She is a staunch Labour voter and says regretfully: “I think the Tories will win here. They shouldn’t but they will do. All the Ukip votes will go to the Tories.”

Not everyone agrees. Paul Gregory, 55, who is unemployed, voted to remain in Europe and while he voted Ukip in the last election, the television debates swayed him in another direction.

“I watched them debates and that Tim Farron speaks a lot of sense to me,” he says. “He’s more for the country. For a lot of them politicians it’s all show. It’s like that with Theresa May not even showing up, it’s just a game . . . I think she will get in again but the Tories don’t stand a chance here — or nowhere with a mining area. They will never be the party of the working class.”

Further up the high street in an old market hall, Lynne, 48, is sat sewing a pair of pink trousers. She backed Brexit and has been a loyal Conservative voter but the impact of austerity has turned her towards Labour. “Mad innit!” she says. “Ukip lied to a lot of people. People thought they’d get more money for the health service. If I could vote again, I’d vote Remain.”

She says: “I own this small business and she [Mrs May] is doing nothing to help me. Bollocks she’s the party of the working classes . . . It’s a scary thought the Tories getting in.”

In the old mining town of North Anston, a 49-year-old company director is enjoying a pint with friends. A self-confessed “floating voter”, he is clear about the direction he wants Rother Valley to take this week. “I hope the Tories swallow up them Ukip votes,” he says. “There’s no other option than Theresa May because Jeremy Corbyn is a communist liar that makes up figures for fun.” The Labour leader would “give everything away to Europe if you vote for him”.

Full text from… https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/battle-for-yorkshire-mining-seat-of-rother-valley-where-old-certainties-mean-nowt-658zltpnc

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16 Responses to Battle for Yorkshire mining seat of Rother Valley where old certainties mean nowt

  1. reg reader says:

    An excellent article.
    “. If I could vote again, I’d vote Remain.” The lady who said that is not alone.

  2. Colin Tawn says:

    A good range of views and reported without bias (obviously not from a BBC reporter)

    Nobody cannot predict the result of the battle for the Rother Valley parliamentary seat but it is probable Sir Kev will once again tootle off to Westminster, however his majority could be cut so that Rother Valley becomes a marginal seat. Which is not surprising given we never see him between elections, and he seems happy with the poor state of our local roads, after all he doesn’t have to drive on them every day does he?

  3. matthewjeyre says:

    There’s a sense of bitter irony in that VOTE LEAVE pushed the £350 million for the NHS not UKIP.

    Farage as the leader of UKIP was ostracised by VOTE LEAVE to stop him becoming Mr BREXIT.

    VOTE LEAVE was fronted by Conservatives like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as well as Labour MPs like Gisela Stuart.

    The irony is that the Conservatives will be in the position to put £350 million into the NHS if they cared about it, but they won’t because they don’t.

    However everyone blames Farage and UKIP for it.

    It’s a funny old world.

  4. Timawells says:

    If the Tories has put a true Brexiteer in Rother Valley who has strong local roots they would have defeated Kevin Barron. But a Tory candidate from Nuneaton, who’s mother is Amanda Solloway. Quote from Wiki “Amanda Jane Solloway (born 4 June 1961) is a British Conservative Party politician. She was … She was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.” Bethan Eddy was her office manager in Derby North, so one can guess which way she voted in the Referendum.

    The shock may come at Bolsover, the Beast of Bolsovers stamping ground. A Tory who ran the Grassroots out and I could actually vote for.

    I suspect the hearts of the remainers will be crushed in todays elections. Snowflakes will be melting everywhere.

    • reg reader says:

      “I suspect the hearts of the remainers will be crushed in todays elections. Snowflakes will be melting everywhere.”
      Utter nonsense/wishful thinking.

  5. revsimcop says:

    It was close – if the Tories had put up a genuine local candidate it could have been bye bye Barron

  6. Pingback: The Week That Was – Last Weeks Top Ten 10th June 2017 | Rotherham Politics

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