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A Hartlepool defeat signals trouble everywhere for Labour


By Joshua Bell

For those who find themselves following political polling trends, with a Twitter feed full of lobby journalists, you can’t help but be excited about the Hartlepool by-election. It has been described as one of the most anticipated by-elections in the past ten years, and for very good reason. In 2019 the Tories swept through the so called ‘red-wall’, taking seats from Labour one-by-one throughout the election night. For many, it was seen as a temporary blip in Labour’s long-held dominance in the North East. A blip which would soon be reconfigured following Sir Keir Starmer’s election as Leader of the party and Jeremy Corbyn’s departure.

However, if the latest polls are to be believed, this once safe Labour seat is set to turn blue and it may do so comfortably. What is clear even before a vote is cast, is the Labour Party has challenges beyond its leadership.
What matters for the Labour Party in Hartlepool, is not only the result itself. Losing Hartlepool would be a devastating blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s ambition to be prime minister, but the result could have a greater impact on the Party’s future right across the UK.

This working-class costal town is a seat which the Labour Party has banked on in elections past. And, as with the demographic of the electorate in Hartlepool, there are many other similar Labour held seats in North East Wales and North West of England. Seats which remain Labour-held, with an electorate which voted for Brexit, and have slowly seen majorities chipped away at by the Tories.  Should Hartlepool prove to be a successful night for the Conservative Party, it is safe to say the usual electoral inevitabilities are well and truly up in the air. A loss would force the Labour Party to refocus their efforts and would be a stark reminder to all that its issues go well-beyond the person at the top.