General election 2019: How the undecideds cast their vote – and why

Undecided voters and election issues illustration

Earlier this week, we brought you a sample of opinions from a panel of undecided voters selected for the BBC by the research consultancy Britain Thinks. We’ve gone back to them to find out how they voted, and why.

This is what some of them told us. Their interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.

For the Conservatives

For Mark, a Leave voter, “in the end, it came down to Brexit”. He was dismayed by all the campaigns and describes politics as “a pantomime”. Nevertheless, as a small-business owner, he found it not at all difficult to make up his mind.

“Aside from Brexit and attempting to fulfil the democratic decision to leave the EU, I believe that the Conservative party are the best custodians of our economy and will better support my family and business interests.”

Leave-voting Leslie put an X in the box for the Conservatives, the same as in 2017.

“I want to see Brexit done. I think a vote for the Brexit party could be a wasted vote,” he said. He was put off by the Lib Dems and SNP, who “only seemed to trash [PM] Boris [Johnson]”.

Nor did he trust Labour, because of its pledge to hold another Brexit referendum. “The majority voted out the first time. Would Labour honour the second vote if it did not suit them?”

Gabrielle said she was “thrilled, apprehensive and hopeful” at the result. She liked the Conservative manifesto, in particular the emphasis on police powers to stop and search “people who have had anything to do with knife crime as there is an increasing amount of crime in my area.

“I also think it is good they are introducing more police officers, nurses and more GP appointments.”

For Labour

For first-time voter Amelia, it was because “I felt they would be the best option for the NHS, and because they promise to scrap tuition fees for university”. She’s also opposed to Brexit.

Chioma voted for Labour without much enthusiasm. “I believe Labour is well involved in knowing the needs of the people, as much as we think they are promising too much.”

She was put off by the “bickering” between the parties.

Gemma, who lives in Crewe, where she’s recently bought a house with her boyfriend, liked that Labour “are trying to help the less fortunate”, even though she describes their promises as “very unrealistic”.

The fate of the NHS and animal welfare were also on her mind, but she admitted, “I don’t know enough about the other parties to consider them and the Conservatives are not for me at all.”

For the Liberal Democrats, the SNP or the Greens

Leanne, who lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and two pre-school children, voted Conservative in the previous three elections and Leave in 2016. This time, though, she put her cross in the box for the most unequivocal pro-Remain party in England: the Lib Dems. Why?

“I read the manifestos of each and really thought about my options. I looked at the policies with the mindset of ‘what is most important to me and my family?’ For me, the Lib Dems spoke the most sense.”

She was also put off by “the mud-slinging and negativity between the Tories and Labour”.

Rachel, who lives in Cheshire with her family and works as a teaching assistant, voted for the Lib Dems, after much reflection. She knew she didn’t want the Conservatives to win in her seat, but couldn’t face voting for Labour, who were best placed to defeat them.

“I was torn – right up to the wire – as to whether to vote tactically or ethically. I could not endorse Jeremy Corbyn by giving Labour my vote. I also have massive concerns about their funding of their manifesto pledges. I dismissed the Conservatives as I do not endorse Brexit.”

James voted for the SNP again, as he did in two of the three previous elections.

“I felt that Labour had deserted its core voters here in Scotland and I couldn’t trust what I’ve been hearing from Jeremy Corbyn,” he said. The Lib Dems “weren’t credible” and supporting them “would be a wasted vote”.

For Humza, the Greens were the least worst option, “as they care about the environment”. He found it difficult to make up his mind because of “the exaggerations and lies from many of the politicians”.

It was a “very difficult” decision, he said, “due to a plethora of factors and issues concerning Brexit, the cost of living and the future of the country”.

Spoiled ballot

Kate spoiled her ballot, disgusted with all the choices on offer. “All of the parties are full of false promises. I don’t believe or trust any of them. They don’t listen to the voting public and have no respect for us,” she said.

When we asked her before the election to describe the two main parties, she said the Conservatives were “reliable, sensible and determined”, while Labour were “dangerous, idealistic and unreliable”. But even the Conservatives couldn’t earn her vote this time.

It was a “difficult choice”, said Kate, who lives in the West Midlands and works as a fraud investigator for a local authority.

“I strongly believe in exercising my right to vote, so couldn’t not turn up. But I could not give any of the political parties available in my area my voice. Waste of time.

Find a constituency

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