John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for May, 2017

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‘I feel strangely optimistic’: meet the first time voters

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

More than a million people have registered to vote for the first time on 8 June. We ask new voters how they feel about having their say

On a Wednesday evening in Walsall, near Birmingham, people from a local temple were handing out chips and beans to anyone who was homeless, or hungry, or both. They expected to reach 100 meals within an hour; four years ago, it was more like 20.

In the queue, one twentysomething told me his benefits money had already run out, leaving him penniless until next Monday. I asked him about the election. “I don’t really know about politics, if I’m honest,” he said. “As soon as I hear Brexit, I switch off.” But you’re living out the consequences of politics. “I know,” he replied. “I’m living in poverty. I’m not an idiot. I’m struggling.” He had never voted before, but probably would this time – even if he hadn’t yet chosen a party: “My dad’s saying Conservative, my mum’s saying Labour.”

The referendum is definitely affecting my vote. It was such a shock, like waking up with a very bad hangover

I’m really trying to focus on the policies rather than people

I feel like it’s the old versus the young sometimes, and they’re not voting for what I would want for my future

Related: More than 2.3m people have registered to vote since election was called

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Britain’s cities are falling victim to Theresa May’s cold, crabby nostalgia politics | John Harris

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Our urban centres are bearing the brunt of the latest austerity cuts. Not since the Thatcher era has a Tory government dared to pit town against country this cynically

‘There’s nobody representing us,” said the thirtysomething man killing time on a side street in Handsworth, Birmingham. Amid the weekday bustle on nearby Soho Road, a smattering of people told me they would be voting Labour, there was irate talk about the Conservatives’ record on immigration, and a few British-Asian former Brexit supporters said they now regretted voting for the leave side, what with prices creeping up and the uncertainties facing small business people. But to a greater extent than anywhere I’ve visited over the past three weeks, the election felt irrelevant to ordinary life.

Related: General election 2017: ITV hosts first leaders’ debate – as it happened

There is a deepening polarisation at the heart of all this, glaringly evident on the national political map

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‘We are not represented’: why is this election so white? – video

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

In the third part of their election roadtrip, John Harris and John Domokos spend time in Birmingham and Walsall – the kind of urban, multiracial communities that the politics of Brexit has suddenly pushed to the sidelines. They find Theresa May’s hardline immigration stance and cuts to English language classes sparking anger and frustration, but also find Labour supporters attracted by her ‘strong and stable’ pitch for their votes

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Cuts, anger, frustration – and Labour still can’t break through – video

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

As their election tour continues, John Harris and John Domokos watch the Labour party lose in Lancashire. Public services may have been ravaged by austerity, but the Conservatives appear to be on a roll. As children’s centres, libraries and buses are axed, even a passionate local anti-cuts campaigner cannot stop the blue surge. So what’s going on?

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In Brexit Britain there are three kinds of voter: the disconnected, the deceived, and the dismayed | John Harris

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Theresa May’s projected election victory will be pyrrhic: the country has no clue where it is heading

Can we now hail this general election as the strangest British contest in living memory? We have a prime minister who affected to go into the campaign full of vim and vigour, but now seems to recoil from the absolute basics of what electioneering entails. If your people shut journalists from a big regional website into a small room for fear they might video something as banal as a visit to a manufacturer of diving equipment – as Theresa May’s campaign apparently did in Cornwall this week – you are surely in a very odd place.

Related: Theresa May accused of hiding from voters on Bristol visit

Related: The Erdoğan of Downing Street, a Le Pen in No 10: that’s how Merkel sees May | Stephan Richter

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