Welcome to The Conversation: The West Cumbrian former mining village who feel 'forgotten' by parties

  • Video report and words by ITV News Reporter Ben Chapman

Elections are often as much about where we’ve been, as where we’d like to go.

For those boarding the Number 21 in Frizington, the experience hasn’t been encouraging.

Unlike the bus, they’ve found politicians to be distinctly unreliable.

This is a former mining village in West Cumbria, beyond the Lake District, over the mountains, and many here have been made to feel as remote as it looks.

Florence and Cheryl question what the government have done to help the North West. Credit: ITV News

“The government are doing absolutely nothing for us round here, we are the forgotten lot,” says Florence, travelling into town with her daughter, Cheryl.

They tell me this is the ‘real’ North West, as opposed to the Manchester and Liverpool that ‘southerners’ perceive.

“They say the north has got a northern powerhouse,” says Cheryl. “Where is this northern powerhouse? I would love to know.”

Ex-Labour voter Harry believes Jeremy Corbyn is a communist. Credit: ITV News

This pocket of the Copeland constituency is an old Labour stronghold, but two years ago the party lost the seat to the Conservatives for the first time since 1935.

At the terminus in Whitehaven, an ex-Labour voter tells me why.

“He’s a communist, that Corbyn,” believes Harry.

Trying to convince him to come back to the fold is Andrew, a passionate Labour supporter who believes the Conservatives have let down working people. But his retort is hardly a glowing endorsement of his party’s leader.

“Yes, he’s in charge, but I believe once Labour get in, they’ll vote Corbyn out.”

Bus driver Tony's route takes him through some of the most deprived areas in the country. Credit: ITV News

There is support here for Labour’s promises to spend more on public services and invest in infrastructure.

Tony, the bus driver, sees the inequalities in a constituency home to Sellafield, the nuclear site with its high-skilled, well-paid jobs.

But his route takes him through some of the most deprived areas in the country.

“There’s nothing for the kids, nothing for adults any more,” he tells me.

“You walk up and down the main high street in Whitehaven and there’s closed shops all over the place. It’s time for a change. The Conservatives have had their turn.”

Margaret and Teresa are skeptical about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Credit: ITV News

But ask those sitting behind him about Labour, and you hear what is becoming a familiar concern.

Margaret says she told the local Labour candidate she’d back him – but only if the party changed its leader.

Teresa tells me she is voting Conservative, albeit reluctantly.

“I don’t particularly like Boris,” she says.“But I don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to get in.”

There was a lack of enthusiasm here for any of the options at this election.

Among many of those we spoke to, votes will be cast grudgingly for parties promising change, or leadership, or both.

But in the villages served by the Number 21, they fear that once again, they will see neither.

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