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Hartlepool by-election : red wall seat will be a key test for Keir Starmer’s leadership

2 6 4
04.05.2021

Since the end of last year, the Labour party and its leader Keir Starmer have been struggling in the polls. This is for a range of reasons, including ongoing internal party divisions. Starmer has been personally criticised for not taking a sufficiently robust approach to the government’s failings during the pandemic.

The Conservatives have recently enjoyed a double-digit lead, amid a so-called COVID vaccine bounce – although weekend polls ahead of election day suggested Labour had made significant progress towards closing that gap.

Against this backdrop, a troublesome by-election is taking place in the northeastern constituency of Hartlepool. This follows the enforced resignation of Labour MP Mike Hill who faces allegations of misconduct and harassment.

Hartlepool, significantly, is situated in the “red wall”, a cluster of parliamentary seats spread mainly across the middle and north of England and historically held by Labour, and which heavily backed Brexit in 2016. A large-scale migration of socially conservative voters from these post-industrial, working-class towns delivered 47 of these seats to the Conservatives in the 2019 election,........

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