National versus local: what will sway your vote in the General Election?

Host Julie Etchingham, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Ukip

Host Julie Etchingham, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the 7-way televised leaders debate at the ITV studios in MediaCityUK in Salford. - Credit: PA

For all the emphasis given by local parliamentary candidates on what is happening in the St Albans and Harpenden constituencies, it is unlikely that voters will not in some way be swayed by events on the national stage.

We asked the members of our election team to what extent they thought the national factor would play into the local vote.

Student Spencer Caminsky, 17, was not convinced it would have a significant impact: “Not massively. Sure, the recent Scottish Independence Referendum resulted in a massive change of heart towards the SNP, the apparent closeness Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond seemed to have with the electorate showed how dangerous the SNP really is, and how far away Ed Miliband and their beloved Labour party have now become, but in my opinion, this won’t phase us as a constituency.

“Generally in England, typical voters don’t know what to think of the mainstream parties Conservative and Labour - policies seem to be more and more the same every year, the various politicians are almost interchangeable, even at the Labour Party Conference the themed colour changed to a vibrant purple, as if the usual Labour red was mixed with some royal Tory blue.

“We’re much more centre-ground as a country than we used to be, and it’s difficult for parties to differentiate themselves as a result. So when the electorate of England see all three English parties joining forces to promote the “No” vote in Scotland, they could hardly be surprised - since they’re so similar anyway, of course they’ll think the same way right? It makes sense.

“So in short, since the recent Scottish Referendum saw all three parties coming together to back the same cause, the local vote especially will not be swayed - people already felt the notion that parties were slowly merging into one anyway, and will now look at things such as party leaders, policies and individual local candidates, to decide how they cast their ballot in May.”

Mother and blogger Penny Carr, 36, disagreed: “This is going to be one of the most hotly contested General Elections in years and the closest to call. People are most interested in which party is going to be in power nationally and I sadly think that will take precedence when it comes to polling day.”

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Labour voter Stephen Poxon, 49, who works for The Salvation Army, had no reservations about whether local voters would be influenced by national politics: “Undoubtedly. Without question. Immigration has to be tackled fairly, robustly and practically. The NHS is up for grabs. Social housing is both a national and local issue - ask the owners of the new Premier Inn in St. Albans!

“The economy affects everyone. There is not one local family unaffected by at least one of these national issues. Speaking as a Christian, I am also aware of the increasing secularisation of society in general, whereby people of all faiths are expected to shelve their legitimate beliefs in favour of the tyranny of political correctness. This is not a major issue, but it concerns me, nonetheless.”

Retired and a floating voter, Alan Morton, 67, said: “I think that national issues influence the local vote, especially when both election polls happen on the same day. Whether they sway the local vote depends how hot the topics are.

“For example the national focus on the NHS will raise the profile of what is going to happen to our local hospital in St Albans and problems with the local NHS hospital service.”

Philip Webster, 87, also a retired floating voter, agreed: “I think all events on the national stage will have every significance on the local vote. That’s what a General Election is for.”

Conservative voter Brian Moores, 64, who works in the street lighting industry gave a resounding yes for the impact of national issues: “The economy is going to be dominant. It’s a straight choice of more debt for generations to come as we borrow and spend more and more or continuing the repair job left over from Gordon and Ed et al.

“I also think the Scottish question could be a real factor in England. The independence referendum is still large in our minds as the Yes campaign continue to peddle the notion that ‘no, that was the wrong answer – try again’. Five years of them spiting England is just too much to bear.”