Heartache over Hartlepool: Is election defeat Labour's rock bottom?

Lula Sharp
May 8, 2021

'They are looking at the two parties clear-sightedly, on the basis of what they offer - and they aren't going to go back for being taken for granted.' In Hartlepool, Mrs Mortimer gained 15,529 votes - more than half the total cast.

They also secured a victory over Labour by winning East Lothian.

"We've got a great team who can not wait to be able to cut through more and I hear what people are saying, it's not cutting through, I get that", she told BBC's Question Time.

Starmer expressed his dismay at the result, pledging to do whatever it takes to reconnect to voters.

"I take full responsibility for the results just as I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the Labour party under my leadership", Starmer told BBC Radio 4. Labour has not yet changed almost enough for voters to place their trust in us. "I intend to do whatever is necessary to fix that".

In Edinburgh, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is seeking a pro-independence majority to put pressure on Johnson to permit another referendum on splitting from the United Kingdom, after most Scots voted in 2014 to stay in.

And a Labour source could promise only further lurches rightwards. Labour is struggling to rebuild in pro-Brexit, socially conservative seats such as Hartlepool, and can no longer rely on its core working class vote.

Election analysts say it is the biggest swing of votes to the ruling party at a by-election since the World War II.

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On winning her seat in Glasgow, the SNP's leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said early results indicated that her party was on course to win its fourth straight election in Scotland but that the final outcome would not emerge until Saturday evening.

The Conservatives won nine out of ten council seats contested at Broxbourne Borough Council to maintain a stronghold on the authority.

Early results in council elections across England, dubbed Super Thursday, suggested Labour was in retreat across a wide front.

The overwhelming victory in the former industrial port town gives Prime Minister Boris Johnson an even larger majority in parliament and increases pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer, who faces criticism for not fulfilling a pledge to revive his party's fortunes after a 2019 election disaster.

Tories are crowing after beating Labour in the Hartlepool by-election on Thursday.

Starmer, who was elected leader a year ago, has tried to shift Labour towards the center ground after two defeats under Jeremy Corbyn's leftist leadership, but has struggled to bridge the divides and unite Labour around a clear agenda.

Although Labour is expected to hold on to the mayoralties of London and Greater Manchester, the next 48 hours of election results are likely to confirm the daunting scale of that challenge.

Conservatives Acting Leader, Councillor Reg Adair, said: "This is a very good day for the Conservatives across Nottinghamshire and we want to thank the residents of Nottinghamshire for putting their trust in us for another four years".

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