Hartlepool byelection

Can Starmer reverse the horror of Hartlepool?

The Tory victory in Hartlepool, with a swing of 16 per cent and the biggest increase in a governing party’s vote in any by-election since 1945, is a terrible blow to Labour hopes that the choice of Sir Keir Starmer would soon stem their rot. What happened in what was a safe Labour seat — it was Peter Mandelson’s in New Labour’s heyday — is that voters who backed the Brexit party in 2019 switched to the Tories. According to the election analyst Matt Singh, if that sort of shift were repeated in other seats where the Brexit party made an impact then more than 20 Labour MPs would lose

Katy Balls

How much trouble is Starmer in?

Keir Starmer is facing a rocky few days as the party’s results from the local elections start to come in. Labour has lost Hartlepool with the Tories taking the seat with a majority of 6,940. While many Labour campaigners were braced for defeat, the margin by which the Conservatives have won has taken both pollsters and those on the ground by surprise. The problem for Starmer is that although it will be a few days before we have the whole picture, it appears to be a sign of things to come.  The party is losing votes on both sides. As well as Tory gains from Labour in Northumberland, Labour has also

James Forsyth

Tories win Hartlepool, throwing Starmer’s leadership into crisis

The Tories have taken Hartlepool on a remarkable 16 per cent swing from Labour. The Tories saw the biggest increase — 23 per cent — in a governing party’s share of the vote in a by-election in the post-war era. Labour has been trounced in a seat that has been theirs since its creation in 1974. Labour’s defeat shows that Keir Starmer is nowhere near stopping the party’s bleeding in the red wall. It suggests that the 2019 election was not a freak result driven by voters’ desire to get Brexit done and their fear of Jeremy Corbyn but rather part of a realignment of English politics — and that