Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
7 May 2021updated 04 Sep 2021 8:52am

How the Tories’ Hartlepool by-election victory set a postwar record

The Conservatives’ vote share increased by 23 percentage points, the largest gain achieved by a governing party in a Westminster by-election since 1945.

By Amy Borrett

The Hartlepool by-election result is a landmark in British politics. Not only is it the first time the Tories have won the seat since its creation in 1974, it is also the largest percentage point increase in the vote share for any UK governing party in a postwar Westminster by-election.

Hartlepool gains set a postwar by-election record for a governing party
Percentage point increase in the share of the vote

Opposition parties tend to outperform governing parties in by-elections, having won around four in every five by-elections in the postwar period. Even when incumbent parties have won by-elections in the past, it has never been on the scale of the Conservatives’ Hartlepool victory. 

The largest previous surge in vote share was for Labour in the 1945 Bournemouth by-election. But even then, the increase was around half the 23 percentage point gain in Hartlepool, and the Labour candidate still lost to the incumbent Conservative MP.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
Why we must prioritise treating long-term health conditions
It’s time to reimagine the lifecycle of our devices
On the road to Cop28