If Labour has any purpose today, surely it is to represent people like
Hillyard, 21, spent months in a homeless hostel and is now holed up in her aunt's house. Her aspiration is to save up for a deposit: not for a mortgage, but to be able to rent her own place.
Like hundreds of thousands of other unemployed people, her pounds 57.35 a week jobseeker's allowance has been sanctioned: a temporary suspension of bene-fits. Unable to afford to eat, she has been driven to food banks, but has exceeded the three annual referrals allowed.
Toms, 24, is struggling too. Her giggling one-year-old son sits in a pram; she also has a five-year-old to look after. She has had many low-paid jobs: in Argos, a chip shop, the nearby
After splitting up with her partner - who has just registered as self-employed - her benefits have been delayed for weeks as Jobcentre Plus takes ages to process her new circumstances. "Normally, I get by on just pounds 150 a week," she says. "But I've got bills to pay."
Like 1 million other families in
Neither Hillyard nor Toms seem to have much hope. But they have anger; and above all, it is directed at immigration. "People are coming over here, and they're taking jobs and homes," Hillyard says. "I'm not racist - I've got lots of foreign friends," she says, echoing a common refrain among other Bitterne residents. But she blames the fact she is being sanctioned on an influx of foreigners: she believes she cannot get interviews to satisfy her benefits advisers because of migrants taking jobs.
Although she says Labour could "win our support by building more homes, having decent jobs for people on benefits," neither votes.
Like other working-class communities in
"This massive industrial base meant that working-class people could get apprenticeships," says
Because of a failure to replace council housing stock that has been sold off, the city's social housing waiting list stands at about 15,000 applicants. It fuels a sense that local people are competing with immigrants for scarce resources.
The great political beneficiaries are
"The cost of living keeps going up, but our wage just stays the same," he says. "Laws get passed that make the rich richer and the poor poorer."
Neither votes but if they did, neither has any doubt who they would choose. "What Farage is saying is right. Being English, we're often made to feel like a second-class citizen," Lyne says. "If we did vote that's where we'd go - Ukip."
But again, her anger is directed at immigration. "I'm very lucky to have a council property big enough for my kids - immigrants are taking up properties."
As for Labour, Macmanus has "no idea what
The potential pool of support for Ukip in
He wants a message tailored for southern voters, focusing on addressing insecurity and aspiration. He believes only a firm line on immigration can stop Labour's vote haemorrhaging in the face of Farage's purple tide. "Our biggest danger is to be perceived as not talking about immigration," he says.
But he agrees that social and economic insecurities are giving anti-immigration sentiment its intensity. "It's economic fears, concerns about fairness around public services and voice and identity," he says.
In Bitterne, it is clearly grievances over housing, secure jobs and living standards fuelling anti-immigration sentiment. Whether Labour can come up with answers on these issues that convince local people is another matter, but is surely the party's only hope to keep Ukip at bay. But there are glimmers of dissent. Carol Miadowicz, 71, a former doctor's receptionist - and Kasia Miadowicz, 42, a training manager at a local hospital - tell me their burning concern is animal welfare. "My dad came from
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