Keir Starmer needs to ‘show more passion’ says Andrew Fisher
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A Survation survey has Tory candidate Jill Mortimer taking 49 percent of the vote in the Labour stronghold – turning it blue for the first time in 62 years. This gives her a seven-point lead over Labour’s Candidate Dr Paul Williams who is trailing on just 42 percent.
If it materialises it would be only the third time in the past 50 years that a governing party has gained a seat in a by-election.
And such a defeat would be hugely damaging for Sir Keir’s fledgling leadership as it desperately tries to put the calamitous Corbyn years in the distant past.
It would also raise the volume of increasingly loud questions being asked about the former lawyer’s suitability to lead his party.
And, as left-wing commentator Owen Jones pointed out, even Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure saw the County Durham seat returned with strong Labour majorities.
He tweeted: “If Labour loses Hartlepool, it’s absolutely catastrophic.
“Labour won that seat twice under Corbyn. In 2017 Labour’s vote share not only increased – the party won its biggest majority there since 2001.
“If Labour lose, that defeat has to be owned by the party’s leadership.”
He added: “And no, there’s nothing to celebrate here. It just prolongs the nightmare of Tory rule. Grim.”
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Labour sources privately warned such a defeat was being discussed within party ranks.
One told Politico: “Labour would have lost Hartlepool in 2019 had it not been for the Brexit Party.
“In the context of the vaccine bounce, the Conservatives should take this seat.”
The by-election was triggered after former Labour MP Mike Hill resigned last month in the wake of reports that he used taxpayers’ money to fight a staff member’s claim of unfair dismissal, sexual assault and harassment.
He has denied the allegations.
The phone poll – commissioned by the left-wing Communication Workers Union (CWU) – suggests North Yorkshire farmer Ms Mortimer will walk away with a 20 percentage point increase on the votes won by the Tories in December 2019.
A win would make her first Tory MP to be elected in Hartlepool since 1959.
CWU union boss Dave Ward told Times Red Box that Labour’s working class base “has been left shrugging its shoulders and asking, ‘Who are you then?’” of Sir Keir.
He added: “Working people want the real thing.
“Politicians that have a moral backbone, that can tell you what they believe because it’s an integral part of who they are and not because it was approved by a focus group and a handful of the political elite.”
In better news for Labour, Ipsos MORI pollster Keiran Pedley tweeted: “Good poll for the Tories in Hartlepool but worth noting a sample of 502 has a decent margin of error and there’s a month left.”
A Tory source told Politico: “The only poll that matters is the one on 6th May.”
Survation interviewed 502 adults living in the Hartlepool constituency between 29 March and 3 April for the poll.
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