The Conservatives are on course to take Hartlepool from Labour when voters go to the polls in the by-election next month, according to new data from Survation.
A poll of 502 people in Hartlepool gave Tory Jill Mortimer a seven point lead over Paul Williams, the Labour candidate.
The by-election seemed likely to be closely-fought but the Conservatives could well be capitalising on a ‘vaccine bounce’, while questions remain about Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s popularity.
Polling is far from conclusive, and although the poll does look at the attitudes of people in the constituency rather than broader public opinion, there is still substantial room for error - particularly in a constituency as electorally complex as Hartlepool.
While they might be some distance behind the two major parties, the Northern Independence Party have pipped all the established smaller parties to third place, polling at two per cent.
In a statement, the fledgling party said that they have “not even started” their campaign and have spent nothing on the election so far.
It said: “We are already beating established Westminster parties. The Labour Party is a spent force in British politics. They are not a fit opposition to the Tories.”
What would a Conservative win mean?
For the Tories, winning a by-election against the opposition in a seat which some consider part of Labour’s ‘red wall’ will provide further evidence that they have managed to finally prize away a part of the electorate which hasn’t routinely backed them for decades in the north of England.
Failure to retain the seat for Labour would be a difficult result to stomach and would come just over a year into Sir Keir’s leadership of the party, underlining already mounting questions about his suitability for the role.
The party will no doubt hope that the poll serves to mobilise supporters and activists to help with the campaign in Hartlepool.
However, sources in the Labour party have told NationalWorld of an unwillingness to get involved with campaigning among younger supporters who played an active role during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure, due to a feeling of being frozen out by the party leadership.
Here are the full results of the poll, carried out by Survation and commissioned by the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
Both the Greens and Liberal Democrats are yet to formally announce their intention to stand in the by-election, and the Reform UK candidate is not the same John Prescott who served as deputy prime minister to Tony Blair.
Jill Mortimer, Conservative Party: 49%
Paul Williams, Labour Party: 42%
Thelma Walker, Northern Independence Party: 2%
Green Party: 1%
Liberal Democrat Party: 1%
John Prescott, Reform UK: 1%
Hilton Dawson, North East Party: <1%
Voters back big pay rise for nurses and free broadband
Hartlepool residents were also asked their views on a number of other subjects, including the leaders of the parties, nurses’ pay and a ‘free broadband’ policy similar to that proposed by Labour in the 2019 general election.
The polling found that Boris Johnson has a net favourability of +19 among Hartlepool residents, while Sir Keir lags far behind on -14.
But on a number of issues, the opinions of residents show that there is clearly an appetite for the kind of policies which are typically associated with Labour.
A majority of voters support a pay-rise of at least three percent, with 43% backing this option and 42% in favour of a 10 per cent rise.
A majority also back the nationalisation of Royal Mail, by 57% to 29%, and are overwhelmingly in favour of free broadband for all UK homes and businesses by 2030, with 69% of voters favouring the policy.