“Part of what makes Bolton amazing is just how diverse and multicultural it is”: Bolton West voters on the election

On one of the hottest days of the year it seemed some people in Bolton were very cold on the subject of politics.

A week before Bolton headed to the polls, most people were apathetic and did not want to discuss the general election.

However, in Elizabeth Park just outside Bolton market, an area which has seen some regeneration as of late, MM spoke to a man who was at first reluctant to talk about politics as it ‘didn’t bother him much at this age’, but opened up.

Michael, from Bolton West, said: “I’m not voting in this election, I’m not interested in any of them, I’m 63, right – so from a child onwards up until 63 none of them have done any good, really.”

He revealed prior to this he was not even on the electoral register.

When asked if there were any parties which were aligned with his political views and would get him to vote, he said: “Basically Reform. If I was going to vote I’d probably vote for them.”

The reason? The personality of leader Nigel Farage.

“He speaks the truth,” said Michael, “and people don’t like it, politicians don’t like it, he just says it straight. He’ll be a good leader.”

Image credit: Olivia Hughes


In a town which voted 58.3% in favour of Brexit, it was no surprise that immigration was an issue for some.

For Michael it was his main concern. He said: “The boats are coming over, they’re risking their own lives and yet straight away they are given a phone, some money when there are homeless people sleeping on a field, like he is over there. He should be under shelter somewhere – the system is all wrong.”

According to Full Fact, the government does not provide asylum seekers with mobile phones when they arrive in the UK – some charities may look to provide phones donated by members of the public to them, but this is not funded by the government.

Michael’s view on immigration was not shared by everyone in the town.

Sam, 20, felt people have used asylum seekers as a scapegoat: “The way everyone speaks down on immigrants and asylum seekers – (it is) as if they use them as a scapegoat as to what is wrong with the country even though it is what makes a country great.

“Part of what makes Bolton amazing is just how diverse it is and multicultural it is – everyone sort of just gets along.

“Marginalised communities continue to be vilified by both ends of the political spectrum, both left and right. Like Keir Starmer flip-flopping on how he feels about the trans community.”

Palestine and Keir Starmer

The situation in Palestine has cut through amongst younger voters.

Sam said: “Another massive issue is not calling out the genocide in Palestine, really.”

Holly, 20, from Bolton West, will be voting in her first election but was unsure on who to vote for – and the issue of Palestine a key factor in her decision.

She said: “I’m not really sure who to vote for. I think Labour is the obvious choice but I don’t know that I agree with their stance on big issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“I’m not a massive fan of Keir Starmer either.”

Michael was similarly unimpressed by Starmer, saying: “I just don’t like him as a leader, I just don’t like him as a person.

“You look at Starmer – he looks like he is going to have a breakdown.”

Image credit: Olivia Hughes

Levelling up

When it came to local issues, levelling-up promises that were made to Bolton were still fresh on voters’ minds.

Whilst Bolton was awarded £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund, this was not signed off by the government before the election was called.

Holly said: “I think the biggest issue Bolton is facing at the minute is the fact that we’re not levelling up like other towns. Bolton has the potential to be a really prosperous town but it feels like we’re ignored at the minute leading to high levels of homelessness and poverty, amongst other issues.

“I think local MPs should be making sure that Bolton is properly funded so we have the resources to help people in those situations.”

Young voters

There is always a big push to get young people engaged with politics, and this has proven difficult in some elections.

According to the Intergenerational Foundation, in 2019, only 47% of people aged 18-24 turned out to vote which made it the lowest out of all age groups.

Image credit: Tom Bryden

Holly expressed how she may vote Green as its policies reflected the needs of young voters.

“I’m thinking of maybe voting Green in this upcoming election because their policies seem to represent young people more – but I definitely need to research more into it.”

Sam said he would vote for Labour, but not because of their policies: “I will probably be voting for Labour because I always have done.

“However, saying that, I do believe that recently Labour has lost its way a bit.

“I disagree with a lot of the things in the manifesto – however, I do think it is a two-party race and a change in government is probably needed now, so that’s how I am justifying it.”

I asked him how parties can engage younger voters.

He said: “The main thing for trying to engage younger people is just to speak to them like they are human, and not talk down on them.

“I think policies towards younger kids are better than trying to just put them in the armed forces or even what Labour are doing on the social media trying to post memes.

“To get engagement from younger people it seems like you are sort of dumbing it down for a generation which doesn’t need it dumbed down for them.”

It’s certainly true that younger voters were willing to speak about politics and engage in the discourse.

There is a clear sense in Bolton that even with the election a week away, some people remain unsure on who to vote – and even if they have made their decision it is not a confident endorsement of any political party.

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