Sunday, 9 May 2021

Hartlepool set to stun Labour as Northern Independence Party could split vote

Keir Starmer grilled by host over 'tough contest' in Hartlepool

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The Labour Party was dealt a crippling blow this week after a new poll found the Conservative Party with a thumping 17-point lead in Hartlepool. With just 48 hours to go, the Survation poll could cement what many in the Labour Party fear: that the remnants of the Red Wall are ready to give way. Sir Keir Starmer has tried desperately to appeal to Hartlepool having visited the port town three times in the past month.

He dumbfounded many after fielding local GP Paul Williams in the seat, however.

Dr Williams lost his Stockton seat in the 2019 general election after his lengthy campaign to remain a part of the EU and promote a People’s Vote.

Hartlepool voted 70 percent to leave the EU in 2016.

Much has been made of the Tory Party potentially snatching the seat, yet little attention has been paid to the other parties in the running.

Leaders of the newly-formed Northern Independence Party (NIP) argue that their candidate is the only “left wing vote” in the upcoming by-election, as the Tories are now “more progressive” than Labour, according to Politics Home.

Former Labour MP Thelma Walker, who previously represented Colne Valley from 2017 to 2019, is running for NIP.

Critics of the new party say that it risks splitting the vote in favour of Tory candidate Jill Mortimer.

But NIP sees things differently.

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The Party’s interim vice chair Meredith Knowles told Politics Home that NIP is the only credible alternative to the two main parties.

She said: “We’re not splitting the vote, we are the left vote.

“The Conservatives are now pushing a more progressive agenda than the Labour Party.

“We’re the left wing vote if you want to stick to your values.

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“If you want to vote for democratic socialism, if you want to vote for progressive policies, then that’s us.”

Ms Knowles claimed that people in Hartlepool had told her they had been discouraged from voting Labour amid the controversy over Dr Williams being selected as the party’s candidate.

According to the Survation poll, carried out for Good Morning Britain, NIP currently stand in third place with six percent of the Hartlepool vote.

Labour clocks in at 33 percent, while the Tories soar ahead with 50 percent.

Many have downplayed the result of the poll as it was carried out before the “cash for curtains” scandal that has dented Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reputation.

With undecideds included the Tories would win 31 percent of the vote, while Labour would win just 22 percent.

In a new blog post, Survation suggests that Labour only held on to Hartlepool in 2019 because the Brexit Party split the vote.

While a small sample of 1,000 people, 77 percent of those the pollster spoke to that remembered voting for the Brexit Party say they will now vote for the Conservatives, versus only five percent planning to cast a vote for Labour.

Despite this, some Tory members are sceptical at the margins involved.

One Cabinet minister told Politico’s Playbook this week that they did not recognise that level of Tory lead.

The source said that the view from the ground is that the seat is “in the balance”.

Hartlepool has been in Labour’s hands since its creation in 1974.

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