Lincoln: Apathy and indecision in UK's oldest constituency – BBC

Sean Starbuck, pictured with his pony Sonic in Lincoln city centre, won't be voting in the election
Lincoln is widely seen as a "bellwether" constituency that, more often than not, mirrors the national swing in general elections.
BBC News visited the cathedral city to take the political temperature ahead of the poll on Thursday.
In the shadow of Lincoln Castle, Sean Starbuck and his pony Sonic are waiting for their next fare.
He runs carriage rides for the hordes of tourists who flock to this cathedral city, which happens to be the oldest constituency in the land.
Mr Starbuck, 24, claims to be "not interested" in politics and is adamant he will not be voting.
"I'm just one person – my vote will not make a difference," he explains. "The fat cats just get fatter. I wouldn't want to lose an hour's wages by going to vote."
His views appear to reflect the gloomy picture painted by Sir John Curtice, the electoral expert whose analysis shows trust in politics has never been lower.
Yet this business owner's political apathy, though deeply entrenched, does not stop him worrying.
"I'm from a farming background," says Mr Starbuck. "Nobody seems to want to help British farmers."
Lincoln is the oldest constituency in continuous existence, having been established in 1265
Mr Starbuck brings up the cost of living. "What people don't always understand is that these prices also affect animals," he says.
Patting his horse, he adds: "Two or three years ago, I was paying £25 per bale of hay. Now I'm paying £45."
I travel uphill to Bailgate and Newport Arch – said to be the most famous of Lincoln's Roman monuments – where I find more people with tell-tale symptoms of political malaise.
Jess and Gareth Tennant are pushing a buggy containing their two-year-old son. They admit that the looming election has not featured high on their list of priorities.
Neither have decided which of Lincoln's nine candidates will secure their vote.
"We haven't talked about the election," says Mr Tennant, a 35-year-old driving instructor. "I've had an important exam to prepare for. We need to sit down and discuss who we should vote for."
Jess and Gareth Tennant are undecided voters
At the last election in 2019, the Conservatives took back Lincoln from Labour, along with the nearby seats of Scunthorpe and Great Grimsby.
Mrs Tennant, a 28-year-old writer, will be looking in manifestos for health pledges. "The NHS is in an absolute state," she says.
Mr Tennant adds: "We're actually looking into private health insurance because, as a family, we feel we can't rely on the NHS."
"Prices keep going up, nothing seems to be coming down," says Mrs Tennant.
Like Mr Starbuck, Amy Barnard, 47, is not intending on voting.
"There's nobody worth voting for," she says. "Nobody who gets in really makes a difference.
"People my age can't afford to own their own home and we have veterans living on the streets. People here want wage increases and houses."
George Young will not be casting a vote, accusing parties of lacking "a unique selling point"
George Young, 80, a retired academic, lives in a house with a red door, but tells me he showed the door to Labour in the 1980s.
Back then, he felt the party, at least at a local level, focussed too much on global issues at the expense of domestic ones.
Mr Young has voted Conservative in the past – he tells me he voted for David Cameron – but he is "no die-hard Tory".
This election, Mr Young will be another Lincoln constituent keeping clear of polling stations.
"Selfishly, the Conservatives' triple lock on pensions appeals," he says. "But then Labour agreed to do the same.
"I can't decide who to vote for, so I'm not going to vote at all."
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Alice Hill, 67, will be voting. She tells me she is "from a working-class background" and plans to vote for Labour, adding "it's time for a change".
"The wealth divide is getting bigger and bigger," she says. "I think Labour will get in."
Donald Guy, a "committed Labour supporter", says climate change and social care are high on his list of priorities.
"As long as Mr Starmer doesn't do anything stupid, I think Labour will be in, locally and nationally," the 67-year-old says.
Donald Guy is predicting a win for Labour, both in Lincoln and overall
Back at the bottom of the hill, Mollie Haines, 24, of The Mouse House – an artisan cheese shop owned by her family – is yet to decide which party will get her vote on Thursday.
Unsurprisingly, she is looking for a party that supports small and medium-sized businesses.
"We will discuss, as a family, who we're going to vote for," says Ms Haines. "Our costs have gone up a lot. We make our own cheeses, but we import wax, which we use to wrap the cheeses, from Europe. Transport costs have gone up.
"The cost of making cheese has risen by about 50% over the past two years. We can't pass that on to customers."
Mollie Haines, who owns The Mouse House, will be voting in only her second general election
Full list of candidates for the Lincoln constituency:
Laura Ashby – Independent
Hamish Falconer – Labour
Sally Horscroft – Green
Craig Marshall – SDP
Karl McCartney – Conservative
Jamie-Lee McMillan – Reform UK
Linda Richardson – Workers Party of Britain
Charles Shaw – Liberal
Clare Smalley – Liberal Democrats
You can use the BBC News lookup tool to find out which constituency you are in, who is standing as a candidate in your area and which polling station you can vote at.
The BBC also has a guide to manifestos, with a summary of where parties stand on issues most important to voters.
Follow BBC Lincolnshire on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), external, and Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastyorkslincs.news@bbc.co.uk, external
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