Voters take to the polls across the UK this Thursday (6 May) for a whole host of elections.
Roughly 48 million people will be eligible to cast their ballots on that date, and around 5,000 candidates will then be elected to represent them.
In both Scotland and Wales, parliamentary elections are due to take place, while on the same day, the local elections in England will happen as well as the London Mayoral vote.
Meanwhile, a high profile by-election is to play out in Hartlepool, which will choose who represents the town in Westminster.
This is perhaps the race attracting the most interest, as the Tories seek a win against Labour in the “red wall” town.
So, why is the Hartlepool by-election happening?
Here is everything you need to know.
Why is there a by-election in Hartlepool?
The Hartlepool by-election comes following the resignation of Labour MP Mike Hill on 16 March 2021.
He faces an employment tribunal relating to accusations of sexual harassment and victimisation, but denies the allegations.
Mr Hill had occupied the seat in the town since 2017.
But Labour has a long history in Hartlepool, with the party holding the northeastern area since 1964.
However, the constituency voted in favour of Brexit in 2016, and Labour only narrowly won in the 2019 general election by 4,000 votes.
Who are the candidates?
There are 16 candidates in the running for the town’s by-election.
Conservative Jill Mortimer, a former farmer and district councillor for Hambleton in North Yorkshire, is hoping to win the seat for Boris Johnson’s party.
In Sir Keir Starmer’s red corner, Dr Paul Williams, who is GP for the NHS, is hoping to replace Mr Hill.
Meanwhile, Andrew Hagon, a school teacher, is running in the constituency for the Liberal Democrats, and university lecturer Rachel Featherstone is up for the Greens.
And the Northern Independence Party is standing its first candidate in the by-election, albeit unofficially due to registration issues with the Electoral Commission.
The full list of candidates is as follows:
- 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.
What are the latest polls?
All signs point towards a victory for the Tories.
A new poll has given the party a 17-point lead ahead of Labour in a disastrous blow for leader Sir Keir.
The Survation survey carried out on behalf of ITV’s Good Morning Britain strongly suggests that Ms Mortimer will win the by-election.
The poll found the Tories would take 50 per cent of the vote share, in comparison to 33 per cent for Dr Williams and Labour.
These are the full polling results:
- Jill Mortimer, Conservative Party: 50% (+1)
- Paul Williams, Labour Party: 33% (-9)
- Thelma Walker, Independent: 6% (+4)
- Sam Lee, Independent: 6% (+6)
- Rachel Featherstone, Green Party: 3% (+2)
- Andrew Hagon, Liberal Democrat Party: 1% (-)
- John Prescott, Reform UK: 1% (-)
- Hilton Dawson, North East Party: <1%
- Other: 1%.
The by-election seemed likely to be closely-fought but the Conservatives could well be capitalising on a “vaccine bounce”, while questions remain about Sir Keir’s popularity.
His personal approval ratings have dropped month-on-month since November, according to YouGov.
By mid-April, just 26 per cent of respondents felt Starmer was doing a good job as leader, down from a peak of 48 per cent last August.
At the same time, his disapproval rating, which sat at just 26 per cent in August, has now risen to 50 per cent.
On the other hand, Mr Johnson’s recent approval ratings are fairly tight, with 46 per cent of respondents saying he’s doing well, and the same number saying he’s doing badly.