Taking the Temperature of Chelsea and Fulham

What are residents saying about their voting intentions?

Alice Clark says she has trust issues with Labour and Keir Starmer

June 12, 2024

There are few parliamentary constituencies in the capital seen as ‘more typically Tory’ than Chelsea and Fulham.

Stretching from the affluent Chelsea locality in its east to the river in the west, via the likes of Fulham Broadway and Parsons Green, the seat has been held by Conservative MP Greg Hands since its creation in 2010.

Boundary changes and a predicted ‘red tide’ in Inner London however have pollsters suggesting the result may be close come election day, with the battle seen as one between Mr Hands and the Labour candidate, Ben Coleman.

The seat itself straddles parts of two boroughs, Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham and Conservative Kensington and Chelsea. As well as being Labour’s parliamentary candidate, Mr Coleman is also the Deputy Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Mr Hands has a majority of 11,241 from the 2019 election, at which his closest challenger was the Liberal Democrats’ Nicola Horlick. YouGov polling however indicates the seat may swing to Labour, with nearby constituencies Kensington and Bayswater and the Cities of London and Westminster also seen as likely to turn a similar hue.

Speaking to a number of local residents around Fulham Broadway last week, the NHS and taxes cropped up on several occasions as points of concern ahead of the election.

Among those to raise fears about the state of healthcare in the country was Amy Martley, 42, who told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I’m really concerned…I do worry about waiting times and the NHS and stuff.”

Ms Martley said she will be backing the Tories on July 4. Asked about Mr Hands, she said, “I have always voted for him and that’s how it’s been.” “He does get back to you quite quickly,” she added, “though sometimes it’s hard to get through.”

William Odlum, 78, was another who said he would continue voting for the Tory incumbent. He said he particularly likes Mr Hands’ ‘personality and his drive’, though again raised concerns about the NHS. “All I can see is it’s gotten worse,” he said. “You go in and it’s 10 hours in A&E.”

Alice Clark, 66, said her priorities for the election are immigration, the NHS and taxes. She added she will be voting Conservative, though clarified her backing for the Tories is more due to national politics than local.

“I’m not attracted to voting for Starmer and his team,” she said. “Starmer I don’t trust as much, he changes his policies every minute of the day. I’ve never voted Labour. They will get in but it’s an issue of trust.”

Given her backing for the Conservatives nationally, how does she feel Mr Hands has done as an MP? “I don’t mind him. Because he’s quite proactive about certain things. Charing Cross Hospital, Tubes and the buses.”

One of those who aired their support for Labour and Cllr Coleman was Gene Kirk, 55. A retired veteran living in the nearby sheltered complex Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions, Mr Kirk said one of his key concerns coming into the election was immigration.

“I worry about that a lot,” he said, “because I fear that the people who need it are losing out. The Government seems to talk about immigrants in such a pejorative way. They lose sight of the [fact] that these are human beings, and they are doing it mainly out of desperation.”

“Yes there are always people who will try and buck the system, but women and children jumping in boats? That’s desperation,” he added.

On whether there are any particular local issues affecting his vote, Mr Kirk praised the area as generally a ‘nice place to live’. “I can’t really think of anything. I mean, bikes on pavements and motorbikes on pavements are the bane of everybody’s life, in any part of London.”

Mr Kirk added he is likely to back Labour due to the ‘action of Ben Coleman’, noting his recent work with Stoll veterans fearing they were due to be made homeless.

“You can’t put a piece of paper between the different policies most of the time, so for local MPs, it comes down to personality and the ones that you trust.”

Stoll veteran Gene Kirk is backing Ben Coleman because of his actions
Stoll veteran Gene Kirk is backing Ben Coleman because of his actions

One woman, who did not want to be named, said while she would not vote Tory, she was similarly not convinced by Labour.

“Normally [I’d vote for] Labour, but Keir Starmer doesn’t do it for me, and I think a lot of people are going to be voting Labour just to get the Tories out,” she said.

Asked about Cllr Coleman specifically, she said she likes him, “but at the end of the day, when you are voting in a General Election you are voting in the Prime Minister”.

Adding she will likely end up voting for Labour, she said, “I’m hoping he will turn out better,” referring again to Sir Keir. “He just doesn’t have any convictions.”

Further east, on side streets just off of Kings Road heading towards high-end shopping destination Sloane Square, the LDRS got a similarly mixed series of responses.

Steve Solomon, 69, said Mr Hands and the Conservative-led Kensington and Chelsea Council had been ‘quite good’ in their work for the locality. However, he said he was inclined to vote Labour at the election, driven by the ‘incompetence’ of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Mr Solomon added the ‘cack-handed’ way Brexit had been dealt with also played a part in his decision. “Whatever the consequences are of change, change will be good,” he said.

Steve Solomon cannot forgive the Tories for the incompetence of Boris Johnson
Steve Solomon cannot forgive the Tories for the incompetence of Boris Johnson

Others were less inclined to vote for ‘change’. A woman who did not wish to give her name, though confirmed she is intending on backing the Conservatives, said she lives in a nearby council estate and is pleased with how things are going.

“I have been quite happy. I am happy with what I have gotten with them,” she said. “I have lived around here for a long time. I’m quite happy. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

One man meanwhile said he does not think he will be voting, despite typically going with the Tories. “Looking at it, I think Labour have already won it,” he told the LDRS. “The Conservatives have gone into shoring up their core voters.”

The pollsters appear to agree with him with Electoral Calculus giving an 88% chance of a Labour win in the constituency. The bookies too have Ben Coleman odds on to be the area's next MP.

Full list of Chelsea and Fulham candidates:

  • Blaise Baquiche – Liberal Democrats
  • Ben Coleman – Labour
  • Mona Crocker – Green Party
  • Anthony Goodwin – Reform UK
  • Greg Hands – Conservatives
  • Sabi Patwary – Workers Party
  • David Poulden – Heritage Party

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter

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