With just a day left until voters head to the polls to select their next MP in Hartlepool, all signs point toward a shock victory for the Conservatives.
Once Labour incumbent Mike Hill was forced to resign earlier this year over allegations of sexual misconduct, it became clear the by-election would become a hard-fought battleground.
While the seat has been held by Labour since the 1970s and was for a long time considered a safe-seat for the party, a range of factors mean it may well change hands after Thursday’s vote.
What do the polls say about the Hartlepool by-election?
Two constituency polls carried out by Survation in the last month have both shown the Conservatives picking up the seat.
The first put them seven points clear of Labour, while the most recent predicts they will take 50 per cent of the vote, more than 13 points ahead of the incumbents.
Though the main two parties are out some way ahead, Hartlepool’s famous independent-mindedness could yet lead to a surprise result, or at the very least a good showing for some smaller party and independent candidates.
The Northern Independence Party is standing it’s first candidate in the by-election, albeit unofficially due to registration issues with the Electoral Commission.
The party is quietly confident that it can exceed even the relatively impressive 6 per cent that the latest polling puts them on, in third place, thanks to a strong ground campaign.
And while the established smaller parties, like the Greens and Lib-Dems, don’t appear to have much of a chance, there could be room for a local independent candidate like Samantha Lee to secure a decent vote-share, with pollsters also putting her on six per cent.
A local businesswoman, Lee reckons her support is being significantly underestimated and is fighting for every vote to represent the town she calls home.
Despite coming in third here less than two years ago with more than 10,000 votes, the renamed Brexit Party, now known as Reform UK, has failed to pick up any traction in the by-election, and lags way behind on 1 per cent.
Who is standing in the Hartlepool by-election?
There have been few elections with as many as 16 candidates in the running, although only a handful have even the slightest chance of pulling off a win.
Both main parties’ candidates have attracted some criticism for not being from the area, although they are still on course to secure the bulk of the vote.
Three former Labour MP’s are standing in the by-election, for Labour, the Northern Independence Party and the North East Party, a record in modern British politics.
And one of the independent candidates, Chris Killick, is likely the first convicted sex-offender to stand for parliament, as he was convicted of voyeurism last year.
Here are all the candidates standing in the election:
Jill Mortimer, Conservative Paul Williams, Labour Thelma Walker, Independent/Northern Independence Party Samantha Lee, Independent Rachel Featherstone, Greens John Prescott, Reform UK Hilton Dawson, North East Party Andy Hagon, Liberal Democrat Adam Gaines, Independent Steve Jack, Freedom Alliance Chris Killick, Independent David Bettney, Social Democratic Party Ralph Ward-Jackson, Independent Gemma Evans, Women’s Equality Party Claire Martin, Heritage Party Nick the Incredible Flying Brick, The Monster Raving Loony Party