Journalist talking to two first time voters outside a polling station in Kensington

How do people in Kensington feel one month after the election?

By Scarlett O’Malley
January 15 2020, 16.10

Kensington & Chelsea was one of the most marginal boroughs in the country, and in last years General Election it seemed as though all eyes were on the West London area. 

Emma Dent Coad controversially became Kensington’s first ever Labour MP in the 2017 election after winning the seat from the Conservatives with a majority of just 20 votes, making it the closest outcome in England.

But last month Felicity Buchan brought Kensington back to the Conservatives by only 150 votes.

So how do residents we feel a month after the most controversial election in a generation?

Student Tom Francis, 17, said: “Obviously the election result was not great in my view.

“I was very disappointed to see the spoiler effect the Liberal Democrats had in such a Remain seat.

“Talking with you we talked about whether 16-year-olds should have the vote and I argued that it was the most democratic thing to do, this election has convinced me electoral reform is required if we are to be a true democracy.”

Pharmacist Mariam El-Kaddar, 27, who has lived in Ladbroke Grove her whole life, went to school in the area and continues to be community orientated.

She said: “On a personal level I feel disappointed because I felt that Corbyn’s policies were a breath of fresh air, especially since the Conservative government dismissed what happened with Grenfell.

“They have failed to take any responsibility for the poor housing standards in the area.

“On the day of voting I was surprised that so many people in the area were wearing Conservative badges – I felt like an alien!

“It’s crazy that the working class feel more comfortable having elitist Etonians running the country.

“It’s insane that the people of Ladbroke Grove and Shepherds Bush seem to have completely ignored the positive influence of immigrants from the West Indies! The whole situation is a disaster!”

Labour Party member Piers Thompson, 60, runs the station Portobello Radio in the heart of Ladbroke Grove and was very vocal in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

You can see Grenfell nearly in its entirety from his garden.

GRENFELL: The tower from Piers’ back garden

He said: “It was devastating to lose. The joy of winning in 2017 had been so sweet and seemed so right, when just four days later Grenfell happened.

“Emma Dent Coad fought so hard for us. We lost because the opportunistic Liberal Democrats parachuted in an ex-Tory who gave my rich friends an excuse not to vote for progressive politics. I will never forgive them.”

Labour party member Joe Spence, 23, works in media and helped canvass for the party in the last election.

He said: “This was a safe Tory seat until 2017, when Labour pulled off a stunning swing.

“That speaks volumes for the bold work of activists and for growing anger at a local administration who oversaw grotesque inequality in the country’s richest borough.

“There’s no sugarcoating the grief of the 2019 result. A split progressive vote and Tory scare tactics led to a devastating outcome.

“However, the last few years have underscored the passion and depth of the Labour presence here. We will return, stronger and more determined than ever.”

Stephen Johnson, 53, was the only Conservative voter who replied to requests to speak to people living in Kensington.

Mr Johnson is the chair of a resident scrutiny panel for Notting Hill Genesis tenants in Kensington and Chelsea.

His health prevents him working full-time, so he does what he can in the community.

Mr Johnson said: “Grenfell has affected so many people in so many different ways.

“Even I had support given because after dealing with a friend who was so affected by the tragedy he developed mental health problems that unintentionally affected me.

“The post Grenfell pollution affected lots of people and I ended up in hospital with severe asthma which is made worse by poor air quality, which is very bad in this area.

“I’m Conservative but believe strongly in empowering local people especially social housing residents.

“Accountability and scrutiny should be Conservative by-words and were major themes in the Social Housing Green Paper that Boris promised, in the Conservative Manifesto, would become a White Paper, followed by legislation. They were the only party to make this promise.

“The Government and our new MP Felicity Buchan needs to understand that people like me will expect the government to make good of this promise.

“Felicity has spoken about the need to build bridges in the local community and we all will judge the Conservative Government on their record.

“I personally was pleased that Labour lost Kensington and we have a Conservative MP again.

“But this situation should not be taken for granted by the new MP and I, along with other local residents, expect to hear and see a lot more of Felicity Buchan.”

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