The Labour party has distributed a last-minute attack leaflet on the Conservative party and their Hartlepool by-election candidate, Jill Mortimer.
Local reports suggest the leaflets have been distributed the night before polling day and on the day itself across the town, suggesting Labour may well be concerned it is on course to lose the seat for the first time in decades.
Recent polling has shown the Conservatives are on course to win a historic shock victory in the by-election, with a Survation telephone-poll putting Labour 13-points behind, although the fieldwork was done before the bulk of ‘Tory sleaze’ allegations were in the news.
National polling which was carried out more recently has shown the Labour party recovering somewhat, which some have taken as an indication that the cronyism attack line is cutting through.This could explain why the party has decided to push this angle, along with criticism of the candidate on localist grounds, at this late stage in the contest.
One side of the leaflet focusses on accusations of cronyism and ‘sleaze’ against Boris Johnson, while the other criticises Mortimer specifically.
‘Major sleaze strikes again’
Titled ‘Major Sleaze Strikes Again’ the leaflet, seen by NationalWorld, features a large picture of Boris Johnson mocked up with a military-style hat.
It then lists a number of accusations against the government, including that “£2billion of your hard-earned money” has been spent on contracts given to “Tory pals and donors”.
It also states that health secretary Matt Hancock’s “pub landlord” was given £30m for a Covid contract, and that an investigation has been launched into the prime minister’s “shady funding” for his Downing Street apartment.
The reverse of the leaflet emphasises that Mortimer is not from the area, and spent time in the “infamous tax haven” of the Cayman Islands.
Labelling her as “out of town, out of touch”, the leaflet references the popular Conservative Tyne Tees mayor, Ben Houchen’s lack of support for Mortimer, and newspaper reports about concerns held by members of the Conservative party in relation to the candidate.