Labor MP for Bolsolver Dennis Skinner. Two years ago, the riding experienced a major political tremor
It started with a sycamore. "My grandfather did not want any problems," says bricklayer and independent community consultant Ross Walker. "So when he died, we bought a commemorative tree. Then one day my mother went to visit and a board sign was nailed to it. "This tree is felled." I told Mom not to get angry, it must be a mistake. So I called the council. And they said, "No mistake. These are damaging walls. We are reducing it. "
I am in Bolsover, the kind of seat where they once needed scales to measure the size of the Labor vote. Local MP Dennis 'The Beast' Skinner is part of the royal family. But two years ago, the riding experienced a major political tremor.
The majority of Skinner was cut in half when the Conservative vote went from 24.5% to 40.6% (Skinner had 24,153 votes, Conservatives 18,865 and Ukip and Lib Dems 2,129 and 1,372) .
Then, in April, the earthquake finally hit. Ross Walker and his independent colleagues won 16 seats in the local elections, bringing the Labor Party back to 18 seats – a smaller majority than the majority of the district council – and breaking with the 40-year-old takeover.
"The workers did not listen. They just took people for granted, "says Walker before announcing he would run again in this year's general election. "I will win too," he adds.
In the Courtyard Kitchen café, Helen Smith certainly does not crush her. "People here normally vote for the Labor Party," she says, "but that changes."
A traditional Labor Elector, she thinks Jeremy Corbyn is "a wet lettuce". Boris "has something about him, but he's a conservative, so I have not decided yet."
Bolsover may be instinctively Labor, but this is the antithesis of Jeremy Corbyn's work.
Helen's comments reflect one of the main break-points of the 2019 campaign. When you first enter the village of Bolsover, every other street lamp carries a large red poppy. Enter a store and you will be greeted by a politically incorrect "Hiya Duck".
Bolsover may be instinctively Labor, but it is the antithesis of Corbyn's work.
It's this contradiction Skinner is fighting against. The former local miner is popular. Everyone you talk to says that he's "doing something solid" for a friend or neighbor. But it also seems that the time has come for him to pass the torch. "Dennis is a bit long in the tooth," is a feeling that you hear a lot.
Another problem is that his bid to extend his 49-year term as a Member of Parliament was delayed by a hip operation, leaving Labor Council group leader Steve Fritchley temporarily spearheading the countryside.
Fritchley – himself a lousy and tattooed miner – is a faithful tribune. "Dennis is a fighter, and the people here know it," he said, but he can sense the danger on the horizon, and in an election where Labor strategists are desperate to avoid the word "B", it is openly refreshing as to why. "" The problems have accumulated and Brexit has allowed people to control them, "he said." This is a big problem, it is also a question of democracy. If I went against democracy on this council, people here would kill me. "
The Brexit is the question that will decide the vote of the local taxi driver, Glynn Cardwell. "Boris is a little silly. But at least he's trying to finish Brexit. I like Farage pretty much. But vote for him? Whoah, it would be something. Brexit must pass, however.
Brexit Party candidate Kevin Harper is a former Derbyshire police officer. "I voted for Dennis Skinner," he revealed, "but Brexit is Bolsover's number one priority." As in 2016, 70% of local voters supported permission to leave.
Harper says he has detected similar levels of support. "Obviously, one or two are just trying to get you out of their homes. But from my police background, I tend to feel good about people. And overall, I think we are the dominant party in this riding. "
Brexit candidate Kevin Harper is a former Derbyshire police officer. "I voted for Dennis Skinner," he revealed, "but Brexit is Bolsover's number one priority." As in 2016, 70% of local voters supported Laisser '
An assertion that is not entirely supported by the customers of Mason's Little Cafe, who listened to his election speech with polite skepticism. "If you're not a miner's son, you're not going here," whispered Chris, a retired hospital employee. Before adding, "But there are fewer people voting Labor this time than saying they will vote Labor."
All this will be music in the ears of Conservative candidate Mark Fletcher. Born in Barnsley and raised in Doncaster, the grandfather of the former head of health care worked in the local pit, as did his mother, an industrial chemist employed by the Coal Board.
"I like the seats of extraction," he says, "they are good and kind here." Fletcher is respectful – even with deference – of his Labor Party opponent. "I admire his record, and if elected, I can only hope to have a fraction of its impact."
But he is not opposed to what he sees as Skinner's Achilles heel. "He is positioning himself as a eurosceptic, but he has not voted to leave the EU in recent votes, he has not voted for the Boris agreement and to delay the Brexit. acceptable. "
Engagement in 'electoral tourism' presents dangers such as Bolsover. Dennis Skinner's last mine was shut down half a century ago, making accounts of the destructive heritage of Thatcherism increasingly obsolete.
The supermarket giant Morrisons is investing heavily in the region. A new police station is being opened. The historic Bolsover Castle – described as the Mar-a-Lago of its day – will be the center of the city council's new tourism campaign.
But spend a few days and some clear themes appear. Themes that will have a major influence on the decision made by the nation on December 12th. One is the toxicity of Jeremy Corbyn. The criticism of him seemed to be the result of what was said in the Conservative campaign. His anti-Semitism. His support for terrorists. The lack of respect he has for the queen.
Another is that even if Boris is loved, he is still not trusted. And he has not yet reached an agreement with the former Labor voters he needs to win the majority.
But the most important thing is how this campaign was designed. No. 10 wanted it to be the people against Parliament. And they have their wish.
Sadie, a waitress, summed up something I've heard over and over again. 'I work. I own my own apartment. But soon I will have to go to a house. And to pay, I will have to sell the apartment. But those who have not done a day job will receive it. That's all wrong. Which of the politicians did she blame for that? "All," she replied.
The election of Brexit is becoming the "scourge of the election of your houses". Normally, members like Dennis Skinner would benefit from the permanence effect. But being an established political figure is now a chasm. And unless an agreement is reached between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, the Brexit party is on the verge of causing trouble. As are Liberal Democrats and Greens and independents such as Ross Walker. Basically, whoever is not part of the political duopoly more and more despised after the war.
Just before leaving Steve Fritchley's office, he repeated the request he made throughout our conversation. "I'm just saying to people," Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. "
Unfortunately, for Dennis Skinner and his colleagues, this is exactly what people are about to do.