The Conservatives are on track to upend 60 years of political tradition with a win in the Hartlepool by-election in May.
Polling numbers give Boris Johnson’s party a clear seven-point lead over Labour, with the Northern Independence Party also taking a noteworthy slice of the vote.
The defeat, which would be just the third time in 50 years a governing party has gained a seat at a by-election, would be a huge blow for Keir Starmer, who installed a controversial ally to contest the seat.
Questions were raised about whether Labour candidate Paul Williams was the right man to represent the heavily eurosceptic constituency given his strong support for overturning the EU referendum result and a second referendum.
Mr Williams, who was rejected by voters down the road in Stockton in 2019, would replace Mike Hill, who stood down amid claims of sexual harassment.
And no, there's nothing to celebrate here. It just prolongs the nightmare of Tory rule. Grim.— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) April 5, 2021
Supplementary poll questions asked to Hartlepool voters also show strong support in theory for a left-wing policy agenda, with 57 per cent wanting Royal Mail nationalised and 67 per cent favouring investment in public services over 24 per cent who want the deficit to be prioritised.
It was also found that 69 per cent support free broadband for all households and businesses vs 18 per cent who were opposed.
The broadband pledge formed a big part of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto in 2019, who managed to keep Hartlepool in Labour’s hands.
NEW Survation Poll (Hartlepool voters only)— Survation. (@Survation) April 5, 2021
Support or oppose a policy of providing all households and businesses free broadband by 2030
502 sample, by phone for @CWUnews. 29 March-3 April. pic.twitter.com/kMzkraRYtm
“Who are you then?”
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which commissioned the poll, told the The Times newspaper that Labour’s working class base “has been left shrugging its shoulders and asking, ‘Who are you then?’” of Sir Keir.
Mr Ward 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.”
At the 2019 election Labour won 37.7 per cent, the Tories 28.9 per cent, the Brexit Party 25.8 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats 4.1 per cent.
Labour won 52.5 per cent of the vote in the seat in 2017, increasing its lead over the Tories, who won 34.2 per cent. At that election Ukip came third with 11.5 per cent of the vote.