3 Apr 2015

Northern Velocity: is politics in touch with people?

Krishnan Guru-Murthy takes an epic cycle ride through northern England, speaking to people who are passionate about politics – and also about not getting involved.

Day 1

The Channel 4 News presenter travelled from Robin Hood’s Bay, in North Yorkshire all the way to Salford, in Manchester, in time for the leaders’ debate with seven-party candidates on Thursday.

With 33 days to go until the elections, Krishnan asked residents whether they felt politicians were in touch with the people.

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David Bealy, who started a business selling bikes and guiding cyclists, told Channel 4 News that he felt politics was too “London-centric”.

Mr Bealy added: “In terms of the new airport, it’s going to be at Heathrow or Gatwick or just close to London. Why can’t it be near Birmingham, in the middle of the country – an hour-and-a-half from everywhere.”

The news anchor reported that he had never seen as many people as he had, who did not know how to vote or who were generally “disillusioned” with politics.

Award-winning musician Eliza Carthy, who just received an MBE, said that politics had become “shallow”.

“It’s very concerned with appearances and not with what is important, which is at the end of the day what you eat, where you live and whether or not it’s going to rain acid on your face”.

From immigration to potholes, Yorkshire residents said they were “perturbed” by the current political situation.

Day 2

Krishnan hopped back on his bike travelling from Ripon, south through the Yorkshire Dales to Otley, taking a closer look at why younger people have failed to enjoy any improvement in living standards.

David Cameron announced on Tuesday that the Conservatives were the “jobs party” – but were young people benefiting from the government’s policies?

James Metcalfe, 24, started his own business as a cycle tour guide, while his sister Amy, who trained as a beautician, could not find employment in the industry.

Amy said that there are “loads of jobs, but not necessarily what I want to do”.

James, however, said the area had a boost from the Tour De France last year, and so he had found the right opportunity.

The older generation, on the other hand, is said to have been protected against the worst of the austerity drive.

Day 3

Krishnan returned to his hometown of Nelson, in Lancashire, to hear the locals’ view on immigration.

Nelson in Lancashire is over 40 per cent Asian, but remains “strikingly segregated”, Krishnan found.

A local community worker, Nasir Mehmood, told him the problem is white flight: “as soon as Asians begin start moving in to Nelson, the English people start moving out.”

Now the town has a new wave of Polish residents.

Day 4

After returning to his roots, and even visiting the family who now lives in the house he once lived in, Krish concluded his journey from Lancashire starting in the small town of Whalley.

Locals in Whalley, which is around two hours from Leeds by train, said there was no need for high speed transport links, but urged for improvements to the current system.

Among the other hot topics was fracking, with campaigners saying that they were willing to vote for individuals who were also opposed to drilling.

And as Krish approached media city in Salford for the leaders’ debate, locals said that personalities played a “massive” part in the way that they would vote.

From the Yorkshire coast to Salford, it seems that voters are still undecided – which Krish says could be the “biggest wake-up call” to the parties or the “biggest opportunity” for the insurgents.