For the first time, the Conservatives have taken the Hartlepool seat in yesterday’s by-election, winning a total of 6,940 votes and a huge 16% vote swing. This result is yet another blow in Labour’s hopes of securing a victory in the next general election. Since the constituency was formed in 1974, they’ve always elected a Labour MP. This is the first time in history that the Tories have won in the city.
The Tory Party has also won control of councils in Harlow, Redditch, Northumberland, Dudley, Nuneaton, and Bedworth. More victories are likely to be announced over the coming days. Many political commentators are criticising the opposition leader Sir Kier Starmer for the defeats. Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has called the loss in Hartlepool “crushing”.
Shadow Communities Secretary and a loyal backer of Starmer, said in a statement to the BBC: “This was a shattering result for Labour. It tells us the pace of change in the Labour Party has not been fast enough. We must become the party of aspiration again.” He also drew attention to Labour being out of touch with the electorate.
Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer was doorstepped outside his London home this morning, he refused to comment on the by-election or the local council elections. This defeat is expected to be followed by Labour losses in various local council seats and Scottish parliamentary elections. However, the party is ahead in the Welsh elections and appears to be doing well in the Mayoral elections, winning Doncaster in the last couple of hours.
But the polls have been wrong before, in 2019 the Tories managed to defeat several Labour strongholds. Former Hartlepool MP Lord Mandelson, who was a prominent figure in the party under Tony Blair’s leadership, said: “Covid and Corbyn” are to blame for the results. He refused to acknowledge Starmer as a potential factor in the defeat.
Above shows the voter-share of the Hartlepool by-election. (Source – Hartlepool Returning Officer)