My faith will play a big role in how I vote in the general election

'My faith is a big part of who I am so it does translate into these decisions about who to vote for,' says Callum Harbour

As part of its election coverage, Yahoo News is speaking to voters around the country on the issues that will sway their vote. Read more from our election 'Your Voice' series here as we get closer to polling day on 4 July.

Callum Harbour will be considering his faith when he votes in the general election. (Alamy/supplied)
Callum Harbour will be considering his faith when he votes in this year's general election. (Alamy/supplied)

For Callum Harbour, voting is not only a democratic but a moral responsibility. On 4 July he will have just finished his A’ Level exams at Telford College and will be voting for the first time.

The young Christian, who is preparing to take a year out to earn money before studying theology and philosophy at the University of Nottingham, says he’s yet to make his mind up but his faith will play a key part in his final decision.

“No party is going to be perfect, but for me with my Christian ideals it’s about what party helps provide to those in need. My faith is a big part of who I am so it does translate into these decisions about who to vote for,” he says.

Although he will be scanning all the party manifestos before he casts his ballot, the 18-year-old has more certainty about who he won’t be voting for than who will get his support on the day. The Conservatives are out because of their recent track record, he says, and the Liberal Democrats because of their history of breaking pledges made to young people and students.

Unlike many of his college friends, he likes the idea of the Conservatives’ plan to introduce national service for young people – but though it appeals to him personally, he agrees the plan wouldn’t work in practice. “A lot of people just wouldn’t go,” he laughs.

So far, Harbour has found his first experience of following a general election campaign dispiriting, and he’s disappointed by the amount of time given over to politicians criticising one another rather than setting out their own positive agendas for change.

“I don’t want to be voting for someone who is focused on saying someone else is rubbish, I want them to focus on what they are going to do. It does seem a little bit childish and petty," he says.

"I get that there are rivalries, particularly with Conservatives and Labour, but when I’m researching the party I don’t just want to hear that another party is doing badly. That’s something that has surprised me. There seems to be such an emphasis on it. I do believe it’s right to call out mistakes, but I don’t see the point in taking childish shots."

Your guide to voting

The leaders

The young voter is registered in the constituency of Telford, which will be closely watched on election night as pollsters and pundits seek to understand the impact that the entry of Nigel Farage into the race as a parliamentary candidate and the leader of the Reform Party has had on the fortunes of the Conservatives.

A Labour constituency since the Blair years, Telford elected a Conservative Lucy Allan as MP in 2015 and 2019. However, she then sat as an independent MP after being suspended from the party in May for publicly supporting the Reform candidate for this year’s vote, Alan Adams. She is standing down at this election.

Harbour won’t be voting for Reform – “I did see a few of their policies that I really just don’t agree with” –but will accept Adams as his local MP if that’s how the vote falls. “If Telford ends up being represented by them, then that’s democracy,” he says.

With four weeks of the campaign left to go, Harbour’s vote is up for grabs by both Labour and the Green Party. He is looking for a commitment to support the NHS, as well as greater funding for the police and firefighters in the area.

Working to save for his years studying, the cost of living is also a significant issue for him. His brother, he says, had to spend the first year of his degree working hard in paid jobs around studying which left little time for socialising. “It would be great if tuition fees were scrapped but, for me, I’m asking how is that practically going to come about? You can’t get the money from nowhere.”

The question at the forefront of his mind as a new voter is: which party is actually most likely to be able to turn their promises into action? “To my mind, running a government is the most difficult job in the world,” he says. “It’s really difficult, so when people make these promises I’m taking them with a pinch of salt. No party is going to completely deliver. Of course I want to vote for the people who make changes for social welfare for people who don’t have any money, but it will be interesting to see whether or not these things happen.”

Through a community football project, Harbour has become friends with a number of refugees living in Shropshire, particularly those fleeing war-torn Ukraine. He wants to see a future government continue to support migrants needing a secure home but is concerned about the lack of infrastructure provided to help communities cope with new arrivals.

“It is a difficult one because we should be granting people asylum but we need to look at an increase in infrastructure and developing more places for asylum seekers to go,” he says. Harbour would also like to see a joint European deal on housing refugees and migrants across the entire continent – something that has become more difficult to negotiate since Britain left the European Union.

“The UK still has a big place on the international platform and I think we should be using that to advocate for peace and non-violence,” Harbour adds hopefully. “I’m a Christian and I’m advocating for peace. I want a government that is committed to helping individuals within the war zones and dedicated to stopping these wars – whether that be through financial aid or supporting a ceasefire for all the innocents hurt.”

Read more: