Dartford, a bellwether constituency, poised for potential shift in power as Labour takes lead in polling predictions

Dartford, a town in Kent, is known as a “bellwether” constituency, meaning its election results often reflect the national outcome. This has been the case since 1964, making it a significant town to watch during general elections. However, this year’s general election could spell the end of Conservative rule in Dartford, a town that has consistently returned an MP from the winning party.

According to recent polling predictions from YouGov, Electoral Calculus, and Survation, the Labour party is expected to take the lead in Dartford. While the margins may vary, all three polling companies predict a Labour victory. This would be a significant swing from the 2019 general election, where the Conservative candidate, Gareth Johnson, won with a majority of 19,000 votes.

One factor contributing to this potential shift is the presence of Reform UK, a party that is polling at an average of 18.8% in Dartford. However, it is important to note that polling cannot accurately gauge the public mood on the ground, which could also impact the outcome of the election.

To get a sense of how Dartford residents are feeling on the eve of the election, local journalist Emmanuel Titus spoke to members of the community. Titus, a Nigerian-born shopkeeper who has been living in Dartford for over 30 years, shared his perspective on the upcoming election. He expressed his frustration with the parking situation in the town and the high costs of running a small business. However, he also acknowledged the positive changes brought about by the Conservative council.

On the other side of town, Chris Michaelas, owner of the Dartford Sports Bar, shared his struggles as a small business owner during the pandemic. He expressed his disillusionment with the Conservative party and their handling of Brexit, stating that he will be voting for Reform UK in this election.

Naomi Abe and Alade Bamgbala, owners of a West African food business in Dartford, also shared their concerns about the rising costs of living and the impact on small businesses. Abe, a mother of an autistic child, is looking for a party that will prioritize relieving child poverty. Both owners voted for Labour in the 2019 election but remain undecided for this year’s election.

Other Dartford residents, like retired printer Keith Patrick, expressed their concerns about the high number of immigrants in the town and their impact on housing and resources. He has already cast his postal vote for the Conservatives.

As the town prepares for the general election, it is clear that there is a sense of frustration and disillusionment among the residents. The town’s diverse population, with a higher than average number of non-white residents, may play a significant role in the outcome of the election. With the polling predictions indicating a potential shift in power, it is evident that the Dartford constituency will be one to watch on Election Day.

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