Is Keir Starmer destined to become a ‘Kinnock-esque’ figure?

Sir Keir Starmer is planning a policy review as part of his plans to ‘change’ Labour after the dismal Super Thursday results. This sounds, to put it mildly, like a rather small response to a rather big problem. Talking to MPs and campaigners over the past 24 hours, I have noticed a shift in the way many of them describe Labour’s challenge. The Hartlepool result has underlined that the party’s recovery hasn’t yet started, and that it is going to be a very, very long time before that recovery can take the party back into government. Starmer could become a Kinnock-esque figure, who might merely prepare the ground for another

Hartlepool shows Labour has lost its way

The election of a Conservative MP in Hartlepool for the first time in the constituency’s modern history is yet another wake-up call for my party. Peter Mandelson once enjoyed a 17,500 majority here. Now the Tories are deep into what was once safe Labour territory – the industrial heartlands of the North – with a 7,000 majority of their own. In the West Midlands it looks again like Labour will lose out on the mayoral race and more. What has gone wrong for the Labour party and our wider movement? My view is simple: in the past decade, Labour has lost touch with ordinary British people. A London-based bourgeoisie, with

Boris shouldn’t take the red wall vote for granted

There are two popular reactions to the Hartlepool by-election, which one you favour depending largely on your political tribe. The first holds that the white working class has reacted against a woke, metropolitan Labour party and its knee-taking leader, Keir Starmer. The second holds that the town’s racist and xenophobic population are still fearful that their beloved Brexit might yet be undone, and were desperate to vote against a Labour candidate who had backed Remain. Both of these narratives in fact boil down to pretty much the same thing: that the people of Hartlepool are a sad and angry bunch who tend to vote against things rather than vote for

Robert Peston

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

In Hartlepool, I’m aiming for a noble defeat

By the time you read this you may know if the Tories triumphed in the Hartlepool by-election — or if, in the end, the party was too badly wounded by all that business about who paid for whose wallpaper. Boris Johnson visited the town more times than he visited Scotland in the campaign, so he certainly sensed victory. But who can predict elections nowadays? One thing, alas, is all but certain: I will have lost. I decided to stand as an independent candidate at the last minute, motivated by how much I loathe the apparatchiks at both main parties’ London HQs — disconnected, mediocre and disdainful. Just look at their

James Kirkup

Why the Hartlepool election result doesn’t really matter

Ah, Hartlepool. The by-election there brings back memories: I am old enough to have reported on the last one, back in 2004, when Peter Mandelson went off to Brussels and left behind what was then a fairly safe Labour seat. My slightly faded memory of that 2004 vote informs my view of what is apparently the most important question in British politics today: who will win the latest Hartlepool by-election? And my view is this: it doesn’t really matter. To explain what I mean by that, let’s go back to that 2004 by-election, where a bright young local lad called Iain Wright (he’s now 48 and retired from politics) saw

How Labour will spin defeat in Hartlepool

Campaigning in the Hartlepool by-election is reaching its feverish final hours as the Labour party tries to hold onto the seat. There has been sufficient talk of the party losing the constituency for such a result not to come as a shock if it does happen. Indeed, many in the party are already talking as though they have lost, openly discussing what might happen next. It is clear that while the Left of the party will use this as evidence that Starmer’s plan to rescue the party isn’t cutting through, there won’t – or can’t – be a serious challenge to his leadership from this faction. What we are more

Patrick O'Flynn

Hartlepool and the theft of the Labour party

When the unthinkable happened in 1882 and England lost a test match on home soil to Australia there followed a mock obituary in the Sporting Times. ‘In Affectionate Remembrance of English Cricket, which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882, deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances,’ it read, adding that: ‘The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’ It will be tempting to compose something similar on behalf of the Labour party should it be defeated by the Conservatives in the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election later this week. The most appropriate destination for the ashes would surely be the chichi London neighbourhood

Hartlepool turning blue would mean a Labour crisis

We have two years of elections on Thursday. But in England, the Hartlepool by-election is fast becoming the defining contest. If the Tories take the seat, which has always been Labour’s, it will show that Keir Starmer hasn’t stopped the bleeding for Labour in the red wall. It will indicate that the realignment of English politics is continuing even without Brexit and Corbyn. A Tory win would suggest that the 2019 general election was not a freak result or a unique product of voters’ desire to get Brexit done combined with their concerns about Corbyn, but rather part of a substantial shift in the electoral geography of England. Hartlepool turning blue

Nick Tyrone

Why the Lib Dems could soon cause trouble for Boris

Much of the focus when it comes to ‘Super Thursday’ centres on whether or not the Tories can pull off an electoral coup by snatching Hartlepool from Labour.  But the Lib Dems’ role in the drama has largely gone unnoticed – and a good result for Ed Davey’s party could spell the start of trouble for Boris Johnson. Labour needs to hold onto Hartlepool. It’s really that simple. To lose the seat, particularly to a Conservative party that has been in power for eleven years, would be devastating. Starmer is also under pressure in the local elections. To put this into perspective, Labour lost around 400 seats in the areas being contested

The Northern Independence Party’s Hartlepool woes

Oh dear, it all seemed to be going so well for the ‘Northern Independence Party’, a Corbynite breakaway outfit standing in the Hartlepool by-election. Despite appearing to think that Norwich is a northern city, and the pretty embarrassing use of a whippet on its logo, the party had managed to field a former Labour MP in Hartlepool and was receiving some favourable coverage in the left-wing and national media. Unfortunately though there seems to be trouble at t’mill. Last night, the party announced that because it had failed to file the correct forms with the Electoral Commission on time, it would not be on the ballot paper in Hartlepool. Instead,

John Prescott to stand in Hartlepool by election

Hartlepool is just the gift that keeps on giving. First there was Paul Williams’ love for older women of a conservative disposition and then there was the Northern Independence party’s meme-tastic bid for a Northumbrian republic. Now Reform UK have topped their ‘in out, shake it all about’ routine with Richard Tice by instead naming John Prescott as their candidate for the by election with polling day scheduled for 6 May. Unfortunately their candidate is not the jaguar-driving, protestor-punching former deputy prime minister but a ‘proud father’ and ‘self-employed businessman’ who just happens to share the same name. A source involved with the campaign told Steerpike they were hoping Prescott only

Diane Abbott has exposed Keir Starmer’s Red Wall dilemma

Were Keir Starmer more like Gordon Brown in temperament then by now he’d be throwing his mobile phone at a wall and ranting about the bigotry of the electorate. Instead, he plods on. Or perhaps we should confine ourselves to saying merely that he plods given the lack of any discernible sign of progress. YouGov produced more terrible numbers for Starmer this week when its monthly tracker poll on public views of his performance emerged. A month ago, it showed him in net negative territory for the first time, at -6 in the split between those saying he was doing well compared to those saying he was doing badly.  Now that

Could Richard Tice win Hartlepool for the Tories?

The Hartlepool by-election is a big moment in British politics. If Labour retains the seat, it will take a lot of heat off Keir Starmer, whose rocky patch as leader continues. If the Tories win, it would likely be politically fatal for the Labour leader. He would either continue on, wounded almost certainly beyond repair, or Labour would get rid of him and replace him with someone much worse. In terms of red wall dominance, the Tories taking Peter Mandelson’s old seat would be highly symbolic as well. Therefore, the prize at stake here for the Conservatives is huge. Capture Hartlepool and the next general election looks to be theirs