As pollsters predict that Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer will become Hartlepool’s first Tory MP in more than 50 years, NationalWorld journalist Ethan Shone reports directly from the town ahead of Thursday’s by-election.
Survation’s latest survey shows a 13-point lead for the Tories, which, if it plays out, could be the biggest single electoral shock in modern political history.
Dr Paul Williams, Labour’s candidate in the race, spoke to us as he fights hard for the seat.
He revealed he was surprised at the positive reception Labour has received during doorstep campaigning.
“People have been much more positive about Labour than I had expected. I was thinking there’d be anger about… in the past I’ve had doors open and people say things like ‘not while Corbyn’s your leader’ but there hasn’t been any of that,” he told NationalWorld.
Dr Williams also accused the Tories of “neglecting” the town for 11 years.
“The Tories… seem to have only just woken up to the fact that Hartlepool exists,” he said.
“And we want voters to decide who’s best placed to do something about it in the future, is it a farmer from Thirsk, or is it a local doctor who’s done positive things for Hartlepool in the past and has a positive plan for the future?”
Meanwhile, ex-Labour MP Thelma Walker spoke to NationalWorld about why she is standing for The Northern Independence Party in the hotly-contested by-election.
She believes that the party - which launched during the pandemic - could send a “shockwave across the country” with their performance in the vote, with a recent poll putting them in third place.
“I think there could be some surprises on May 6th, but even if we came third ahead of established Westminster parties as a brand new party without all the machinery and the financial backing, then I think it would send a shockwave across the country,” she told us.
And Ethan also looks into Hartlepool’s council tax rate, as the town has the highest council tax to property value ratio in the UK.
Campaigners are baffled that the main parties contesting the by-election aren’t talking about the issue when “Hartlepool residents pay similar rates to Westminster residents”.
Hilton Dawson, the North East Party’s candidate, said his party has been campaigning on this issue for a long time, highlighting it in four parliamentary campaigns.
“If I am elected to Parliament I would be well placed to pursue this matter on an all-party basis with the backing of Fairer Share. Given the concern for ‘levelling up’ and for the future of the UK I firmly believe that we could make progress,” he told us.
The emergence of a new Covid symptom
We also cover the new symptom of coronavirus, as a leading scientist has warned that people may experience changes to their fingernails after infection.
Professor Tim Spector, principal investigator of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app, has said that nails which show a prominent ridge could be a sign that someone has had coronavirus already.
The horizontal grooves or ridges that appear on nails after an infection are known as Beau’s lines, and have been reported among people who experience Covid toes or fingers - which is when the skin becomes discoloured.
These lines are commonly seen in patients who have had a viral illness, and is a sign of stress that the body was under.
But the lines will eventually grow out over time and are usually harmless.
How to tackle dating post-pandemic
And, last but by no means least, our writer Rhona Shennan looks into the phenomenon of Fear Of Dating Again - the terrifying feeling of diving back into a world of face-to-face dating following a year of isolation.
The term was coined by dating app Hinge in January 2021, and refers to the fears and worries that come along with dating in real life after spending a year with limited social interactions.
Speaking to NationalWorld, Professor Ewan Gillon, Chartered Psychologist and Clinical Director at First Psychology Scotland, offers our readers crucial pieces of advice to soothe any dating fears - ranging from pinpointing the reasons for your anxiety to not putting too much pressure on yourself.
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