Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
4 May 2021updated 22 Jul 2021 1:33pm

Why even a narrow win in Hartlepool would not bode well for Labour

If the party was in a position to win a majority at the next general election, it would be comfortably ahead in the by-election.

By Ailbhe Rea

We are fast approaching “Super Thursday” and this morning a new Survation poll from Hartlepool is indicating a 17-point lead for the Conservatives over Labour ahead of this week’s crucial by-election. 

It is generally bad practice to isolate a particular poll, rather than considering them in aggregate, especially given the larger margin of error in this poll and the famous unreliability of constituency polling. Constituency polling is good at identifying trends, such as, in this case, the transfer of Brexit Party votes to the Conservatives, but less good at estimating the scale of that trend, because of the risk of overestimating the most motivated voters and the challenge of determining turnout. 

But it’s worth remembering that even if Labour narrowly holds Hartlepool, this would not be a good result for the party. As Stephen Bush set out in more detail last week, there are different ways of thinking about the seat and Labour’s position. You can view Hartlepool as the Labour-held seat that it is on paper, or treat it as a de facto Conservative seat given how one would expect the 25 per cent vote for the Brexit Party (which has disbanded) to break in favour of the Tories. Yet whatever the starting point, if Labour was in a position to win a majority at the next general election it would be comfortably ahead in Hartlepool.

Labour is, of course, now simply hoping to scrape an against-the-odds win in Hartlepool. If the party narrowly holds the seat, Keir Starmer will breathe a sigh of relief at avoiding the nightmare scenario envisioned by the Survation poll, and the mood music will brighten. But even that scenario would not augur well for Labour’s future. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product 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
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

[See also: What would be a good result for Labour in the Hartlepool by-election?]

Content from our partners
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas