Hartlepool is simply not a seat Labour can hold, according to new analysis, after polling shows the party is on for a shock defeat in the by-election this week.
A Survation poll has given the Conservatives a mammoth lead in the election, with Jill Mortimer expected to win as much as 50 per cent of the vote giving her a clear lead over Labour GP Dr Paul Williams, who is on 33 per cent.
The survey, which was carried out on April 23-29, found independents Thelma Walker and Sam Lee would also take a not-insignificant slice of the vote, winning 6 per cent each, with the Greens on 3 per cent.
Several people have been quick to criticise Sir Keir Starmer for losing a seat won by his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 and 2019, but deeper analysis seems to paint a more nuanced picture.
Corbyn won Hartlepool Twice?✊over to you Starmer— ComradeGeordie (@ComradeGeordie) May 3, 2021
Survation’s Damian Lyons Lowe said that in his opinion, Hartlepool is a seat Labour would likely have “lost to the Conservatives 2019 were it not for the particularly strong Brexit Party challenge.
“Together, the Brexit Party and the “Get Brexit Done*” party took 55 per cent of the 2019 vote to Labour’s 38 per cent.
“True to his promise, Boris Johnson got Brexit done, and in a seat where Brexit is a major driver of voting behaviour, we can only look to his +23 favorability rating to see what these voters think about that.”
Hartlepool 2019 general election result: unclear why anyone thought Labour could hold it https://t.co/wK6uTyn6vc pic.twitter.com/wKBtIBZW4W— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) May 4, 2021
With the Brexit Party no longer in the picture – only 1 per cent of voters intend to vote for Reform UK under Richard Tice – and new independent candidates stepping forward, vote splitting seems to be a bigger factor for Labour this time around.
Thelma Walker, standing as an independent but with ties to the Northern Independence Party, has been cause for concern among the Labour ranks, while both Sam Lee and the Greens are more likely to steal votes from the left.
Related: Sir Keir Starmer writes open letter to country ahead of Thursday’s elections