Thursday's election is seen as a vital test for the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn
The vote, which came about after Labour MP Tristram Hunt stood down, is seen as a vital test for the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Long a safe Labour seat, many are now predicting a win for Ukip which has put up new leader Paul Nuttall as its candidate.
A Ukip victory would mark a major post-Brexit breakthrough for the party, stealing one of Labour’s historic heartland constituencies.
Last week a battle for working class estates like Bentilee was being fought with scores of canvassers out in force.
Retired potter John Hodgkinson said children no longer feel they have to vote the way their parents did.
“That’s why Labour will lose next week,” said the 79-year-old former Labour voter.
That’s why Labour will lose next week
“The days of people around here following them like sheep have long gone.
“My father was an old-style socialist and I voted Labour for a long time. They have made promises but they’ve let us down time and time again. And many people haven’t forgiven Tony Blair for starting an illegal war that has caused so many troubles.”
He continued: “The current level of immigration has to be stopped because we simply cannot cope with the strain being put on public services.”
Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn said voters had a chance to reject austerity
His wife Rose, 77, added: “I feel sorry for some of the situations they find themselves in, but there has to be a limit. I think Labour’s days are up.”
Earlier this week Mr Nuttall admitted that a claim on his website that he had lost “close personal friends” at the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster was false.
He still maintains he was at the tragedy which claimed the lives of 96 fans.
Many are now predicting a win for Ukip which has put up new leader Paul Nuttall as its candidate
At the same time Labour’s candidate Gareth Snell had to apologise over “unacceptable” comments made about women in some tweets about TV shows.
Meanwhile, Barbara Fielding, an independent candidate, was arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred after a complaint about her website.
Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership election
Sat, September 24, 2016
Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership race against rival Owen Smith in the election contest that lasted three months.
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Jeremy Corbyn MP (R) hugs Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell after being announced as the leader of the Labour Party on the eve of the party's annual conference at the ACC on September 24, 2016
However, many voters in Stoke say the integrity of politicians is less important than the issue of border controls.
Roy Barker, who worked with young offenders, said: “It’s not about politicians, this election is about a single issue – immigration. I’m not saying it should be, but that’s the way it is around here.”
The 63-year-old from Hanley added: “I’ll vote, but in my opinion Labour will lose. They have blown it because they seem to be run by too many imbeciles.”
Many voters say the integrity of politicians is less important than the issue of border controls
Meanwhile, Claire Plant, 46, said she will not vote at all after being “let down” by the post-Brexit battles in the House of Commons.
Although she accepted immigration was important, she said the future of the NHS should be a major issue.
“Politicians should go and spend some time in the hospitals and see how much they are struggling,” she said.
Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn said voters had a chance to reject austerity.
He said: “Ukip’s politics of hate will not save children’s centres. Hatred won’t build homes, it won’t create jobs and it won’t fund health and social care.
“But that’s true of the Tories too.
“When politicians of the right have no solutions, they find a scapegoat.”