2015 Result:
Conservative: 8256 (22.6%)
Labour: 14076 (38.5%)
Lib Dem: 761 (2.1%)
Green: 1341 (3.7%)
UKIP: 11052 (30.2%)
Independent: 201 (0.6%)
Others: 849 (2.3%)
MAJORITY: 3024 (8.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: North East, Cleveland. The whole of the Hartlepool council area.

Main population centres: Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, Elwick, Hart.

Profile: Consists of the north eastern port of Hartlepool and the rural villages around it. Historically shipbuilding and steel dominated Hartlepool and it remains an industrial town, with the port, the steel and chemical industries, ship breaking and Hartlepool nuclear power station all important local employers.

Politics: Hartlepool was won by the Conservatives as recently as 1959, but since then is has become a reliable Labour seat, politically most associated with its former MP Peter Mandleson. Between 2002 and 2013 Hartlepool borough council had an elected mayor, held throughout the period by an Independent candidate, Stuart Drummond. Drummond originally stood as a publicity stunt for Hartlepool FC, dressed as their mascot H`Angus the Monkey (named after the local legend that locals hung a monkey as a French spy during the Napoleonic wars) and promising free bananas for school children. He won a shock victory, and was re-elected (without the monkey costume) twice before the position was abolished.

Current MP
IAIN WRIGHT (Labour) Born 1972, Hartlepool. Educated at UCL. Former chartered accountant. Hartlepool councillor from 2002. First elected as MP for Hartlepool in 2004 by-election. PPS to Rosie Winterton 2005-2006, Junior minister in Dept for Communities 2007-2009, Dept for Children, Schools and Families 2009-2010.
Past Results
Con: 10758 (28%)
Lab: 16267 (43%)
LDem: 6533 (17%)
UKIP: 2682 (7%)
Oth: 2002 (5%)
MAJ: 5509 (14%)
Con: 4058 (11%)
Lab: 18251 (52%)
LDem: 10773 (30%)
UKIP: 1256 (4%)
Oth: 1098 (3%)
MAJ: 7478 (21%)
Con: 7935 (21%)
Lab: 22506 (59%)
LDem: 5717 (15%)
Oth: 1893 (5%)
MAJ: 14571 (38%)
Con: 9489 (21%)
Lab: 26997 (61%)
LDem: 6248 (14%)
MAJ: 17508 (39%)

2015 Candidates
RICHARD ROYAL (Conservative) Educated at Headlands School and Lancaster University. Corporate affairs manager.
IAIN WRIGHT (Labour) See above.
HILARY ALLEN (Liberal Democrat)
PHILLIP BROUGHTON (UKIP) Supermarket supervisor and wrestling promoter. Stockton councillor 2007-2011 for the Conservatives. Contested North East region 2014 European elections.
MICHAEL HOLT (Green) Insurance salesman.
SANDRA ALLISON (Your vote could save our hospital)
JOHN HOBBS (Independent - Tell it Like it Is) Contested Hartlepool 2005.
STEPHEN PICTON (Independent)
Comments - 386 Responses on “Hartlepool”
  1. A Cons-Lab win here of 45%-42% would still be sobering for Labour, but their spinners could say they improved their GE2019 vote share but Brexit Party’s voters broke heavily for the Tories.

    However, if Lab really only got 33% then they’ve got nowhere to hide as this would be 5% LOWER vote share than 2019.

    Unless national polls are grossly wrong currently, Hartlepool polling makes you wonder where the Tories are losing ground vs. Labour against their GE2019 position – there must be plenty of places given that their poll leads are on average lower than their GE2019 vote share lead, yet they’re up in working-class Hartlepool.

    (with the usual caveat that by-elections are strange animals so this is a bit of a simplistic line of thought).

  2. The Guardian write up of semi leaked Labour polling data suggests the poll looks very possible. They are saying only 40% promises from unspecified previous Labour canvass returns will vote Labour this time.

    Obviously you have to discount this with lower turnout and it’s possible many of these came from 2017 when Labour had a higher share of the vote but they do sound gloomy.

    My one issue with the write up is saying that Sunderland City Council is in danger and I don’t think that is literally possible this time around even in the unlikely event that safe Labour seats went Tory or elsewhere.

  3. Be interesting to see what comes of the West Yorkshire mayoral (mayoral elections were mentioned on the previous page). 7, 8, 9 years ago, Labour would’ve probably taken a contest like that fairly comfortably, though maybe on a 2nd round. Now given the shifts in electorate, think it’s more competitive than meets the eye. Tracy Brabin seems to be the most visible candidate, or one with the highest profile. But West Yorkshire as a whole is an interesting one. Wakefield has clearly trended Conservative, Leeds and Bradford remain fairly secure for Labor (though surrounding towns in those boroughs are more of a tossup). I think the real test of who wins will depend on who comes out on top in Calderdale and Kirklees.

  4. If Brabin lost, that would be almost an atrocious result for Labour as Hartlepool. I expect her to win and if she does there’ll be another fascinating (and tricky for Lab) Parliamentary by-election in Batley and Spen.

  5. Batley and Spen should be a Labour hold though with a competitive Tory fight. Demographically Batley and Heckmondwike favour Labour to carry them across the line.

  6. I would be very surprised if Labour can’t win West Yorkshire. The demographics are indeed very reliable for Labour in that region.

  7. The front pages all go with Boris sending Royal Navy gunboats to defend Jersey.

  8. “Defend Jersey”. France haven’t declared war on us, you know?

  9. Hartlepool has shown that it’s idiosyncratic and volatile. I’m sticking with my prediction of a Labour hold, although now, with v little confidence!

    Reasons…seat polls can be, and have been, way out in the past. Its a rule: Govts are not supported in by-elections! Lab hold a decent maj here. Lab got 53% here less than 4 years ago. They are clicking upwards nationally.

  10. I *have* changed my mind – Survation would have to be very wrong indeed for the outcome to be affected, I am going with a Conservative gain.

    One factor I hadn’t really clocked until recently is the insane local popularity of Ben Houchen, who may be one of the most effective politicians in Britiain that nobody (outside of politics nerds and Teeside residents) has heard of. He seems to be accelerating the region’s rightwards trend, even ahead of other places which share similar demographics.

  11. I saw an article yesterday basically saying Labour MPs campaigning in Hartlepool think its as good as lost already. But that might be expectation management.

    Very good Tory results for the mayoralty here and in the west midlands might well transfer further “down the ballot” in the local council and PCC contests in the same area.

    Its going to be a fasinating election results day.
    And we still get our election night thanks to the Hartlepool and Doncaster elections

  12. “Very good Tory results for the mayoralty here and in the west midlands might well transfer further “down the ballot” in the local council and PCC contests in the same area.”

    The Tories are benefitting from selecting independent-minded business-savvy mayoral candidates like Street and Houchen. Labour’s mayoral candidates are too often dreary uninspired political machine figures like Burnham, Khan and Byrne. If Sadiq Khan were up against an Andy Street rather than a hapless Shaun Bailey, he wouldn’t be enjoying such a walkover this time.

    A couple of weeks ago I was chatting on a rail enthusiasts’ forum with a fairly well-known railways expert, who is pretty left wing and anti-Tory in his political views. He told me that his experiences working with Andy Burnham on public transport issues had been utterly woeful. He has also worked on projects in the West Midlands and has nothing but praise for Andy Street. The better Tory mayors are getting crossover support even from middle class leftie types who wouldn’t vote for Boris nationally in a month of Sundays, based on local issues, and that’s part of what will emerge today I think.

    Locally to me, for the umpteenth election in a row, almost zero Lib Dem effort in a council which they controlled as recently as the early Cameron era….suggests to me that they’ll underperform yet again in Tory South Remainerland.

  13. My MP has done a foot in in Hartlepool. All she had to say was she nobody is picking up the phones or answering the door.

    Yes PCCs like Cleveland will surely be affected by the Tees Valley mayoralty

  14. Of course, there is one very high-profile former Conservative mayor who used to fit that description himself…

  15. Polltroll

    Yes, I also read anecdotes of residents saying Ben Houchen had done a good job – tellingly, in contrast to a long line of Labour politiicans in various roles of leadership / responsibility in Hartlepool – MP and council etc – it seems.

    I’m also now thinking a Tory gain.

    Once many voters from longstanding Labour families have voted Conservative for the first time and found themselves with a Tory MP – and found the world didn’t stop going round, perhaps even it went faster – they may not go back for a long time.

    Labour may win a majority of seats in Scotland again before regaining some of the ex-Red Wall seats!

    SNP have done an outstanding job of preventing SCON make further advances in Scotland – aided, it has to be said, by having a national Tory gov and also by Brexit.

    I’m sure both SNP and SLAB know that if SCON ever got into power as the largest party at Holyrood, and those that didn’t vote for SCON then discovered that all the horror stories they’d been fed for decades didn’t quite materialise, they might end up being a stronger influence in Scottish politics for a good while, at SNP and SLAB expense.

  16. PT – no, the French minister just threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity.

    On the Jeremy Vine show, 6 of the 7 callers backed sending the Royal Navy. The 7th who initially didn’t, said you can’t trust the French (when asked what should be done if they blockade St Helier).

  17. Re Hartlepool – as you will see from my posts weeks ago – I’ve said Tory gain all along. It still ain’t over till the fat lady sings though. Constituency polling does not have a very good record of getting elections right, especially by-elections.

    “War with France” will melt away after polling day like snow in June. Wouldn’t surprise me if Boris hadn’t engineered it all with Macron. Helps both of them with the domestic audience.

  18. “Of course, there is one very high-profile former Conservative mayor who used to fit that description himself…”

    Yes. Messrs Khan and Burnham have surely noticed that. If Labour win a general election in 2028/29 (I’m writing off 2023/24 for them already), I think there’s a fair chance of Khan or Burnham being the next Labour Prime Minister. Boris has blazed the trail for mayors to use their blustering and grandstanding profile to push past anonymous cabinet ministers to get to number 10. I sincerely doubt he’ll be the last. Labour is seriously short of credible leaders.

  19. “Once many voters from longstanding Labour families have voted Conservative for the first time and found themselves with a Tory MP – and found the world didn’t stop going round, perhaps even it went faster – they may not go back for a long time.”

    Exhibit A = my dad

    My wife and I once made the mistake of taking my parents to see Billy Elliott in the theatre in London. It was around the time of our wedding, so sometime around 2010. Unfortunately it set my dad off into one of his anti-Thatcher rants mid performance (I come from a long line of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire miners).

    On the phone the other day he was singing Boris’s praises and saying how useless Labour and Starmer were. The transformation in a decade has been utterly amazing. The geekiness of Miliband turned him off a lifetime of Labour (occasionally SDP) voting and he’s clearly never going back. Ditto my grandma, sadly now lost to COVID, a miner’s widow, voting Tory for the very first time in 2019 at the ripe old age of age of 96, “mmm I really like that Boris”. This multiplied by millions up and down the midlands and north.

  20. I cannot see Khan becoming prime minister. Labour may well choose him as leader, but the country wouldn’t. Burnham is plausible – I’m not sure everyone finds him dreary and uninspiring. I wouldn’t write off Labour’s chances of being the largest party at the next GE. Still plenty of time for everything to change. Boris will have got “Brexit done”, and that will be factored in to how those switchers vote. It may not live up to their expectations. Not to dismiss your anecdotes, HH, but those relations you mention aren’t exactly a demographic with growth potential for the Tories.

  21. Given the mountain Labour has to climb in 2023/24, I don’t even know if they can get a Kinnock-style 92 result by then whereby they fall short but have recovered in terms of seat share. Back then the ‘red wall’ was still strong. Starmer simply not being Corbyn is an advantage, but there’s still so much groundwork left after a pretty poor decade for the party as a whole.

    There was a Guardian report this week mentioning Labour’s potential in the South West and West of England (the latter having a mayoral), pockets of the south coast and seats like High Wycombe. The report was about changing demographics and whether Labour can capitalise on them. But in contrast to that, one of the editors on Newsnight yesterday noted that Labour are yet to show much evidence of a southern surge to match Conservative growth in the north.

  22. They clearly have been – growth potential for the Tories. Many who stopped voting or voted for others in the 2000s, are now voting Tory everytime.

    HH – yes, Sir Keir reminded me of Miliband when he was awkwardly searching for a tin to fill a food parcel.

    Incidentally, http://www.whocanivotefor.co.uk shows photos of candidates in each election if you enter your post code.

  23. I realise its self-imposed, but does purdah now only apply to GEs? I’d assumed the holiday green and amber list was delayed ’til tomorrow due to Hartlepool etc.

    But there’s been a few Govt announcements this week and the BoE today.

  24. “They clearly have been – growth potential for the Tories.” The key word is “have” – I’m not sure there’s a future growth potential. I’ll admit we live in an ageing population, which might benefit the Tories, but their voters are clearly dying before those from other parties. I also wouldn’t underestimate the possibility that former Labour voters might simply have abstained altogether in 2019. A lot of those ‘red wall’ seats had Tories winning on less than 50%, but the electoral system does skew perceptions like this.

  25. Turnout was, of course, high in 2017 & 2019. It was in 2005 that Labour voters stayed at home, hence Blair only winning 9 million votes.

  26. Tories saying that they’ve won. Only question now is the margin of victory.

  27. Looks like Labour are conceding defeat by a hefty margin.

  28. Being reported that the Tories gain by a 6,940 majority.

  29. Jill Mortimer (C) 15,529 (51.88%, +22.96%)
    Paul Williams (Lab) 8,589 (28.69%, -8.99%)
    Sam Lee (Ind) 2,904 (9.70%)
    Claire Martin (Heritage) 468 (1.56%)
    John Prescott (Reform) 368 (1.23%)
    Rachel Featherstone (Green) 358 (1.20%)
    Andrew Hagon (LD) 349 (1.17%, -2.97%)
    Thelma Walker (Ind) 250 (0.84%)
    Chris Killick (ND) 248 (0.83%)
    Hilton Dawson (NE Party) 163 (0.54%)
    W Ralph Ward-Jackson (Ind) 157 (0.52%)
    Gemma Evans (Women) 140 (0.47%)
    Adam Gaines (Ind) 126 (0.42%)
    The Incredible Flying Brick (Loony) 108 (0.36%)
    David Bettney (Soc Dem) 104 (0.35%)
    Steve Jack (FA) 72 (0.24%)

    C maj 6,940 (23.19%)
    15.97% swing Lab to C

    Electorate 70,768; Turnout 29,933 (42.30%, -15.62%)

    And here are the 2019 general election results:

    2019: Lab maj 3,595 (8.76%) – Turnout 41,037 (57.92%)

    Hill (Lab) 15,464 (37.68%); Houghton (C) 11,869 (28.92%); Tice
    (Brexit) 10,603 (25.84%)

  30. Suggestive of a big re-election margin for Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen.

  31. Crazy.

    Stattos out there – when was the last time a governing party increased its vote total – not the vote share, the raw number of votes – at a by-election?

    Given the usually feeble turnouts of by-elections, I somewhat suspect this has never happened in British political history.

  32. And yes, Neil, I am expecting Houchen to take 60-odd% on the first round of voting.

  33. High turnout for a by-election – especially in Hartlepool where turnout % is usually in the 50s!

    Whilst not a typical seat that can just be extrapolated to what is to come across the rest of England, one thing it does show is an enthusiasm gulf between supporters of the two main parties.

    Boris definitely has ‘something’ that charms voters, Starmer’s not especially dislikeable but definitely dour.

    And nobody knows what Labour are for any more.

    Throw in 40 years of complacency and laziness in their ‘red wall’ areas and the result is devastating when it comes.

  34. Well done to Survation who suggested 51%/33%. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I assumed Lab leavers would return to Labour. For me, this was almost a Remainer run of the Referendum, with a big chunk of the electorate seeing the Labour candidate and Starmer as representing Remain/2nd Referendum.

  35. Likely a direct transfer of votes from Brexit party to the Conservatives, but it’d be naive to suggest no ex-Labour voter moved Conservative here yesterday. Wonder if many of them stayed home for the BE as well.

  36. “And nobody knows what Labour are for any more.”
    This is in danger of becoming a meaningless cliche. Enough people know what Labour are for to keep voting for them in large numbers. What such comments may actually mean is that people who have stopped voting Labour don’t know what they’re for, because they’ve stopped identifying with them. The core Labour vote and brand has certainly changed since its original raison d’etre, and the concept of a “Labour” party is a lot less adaptive to change than a “Conservative” one. Human nature is fundamentally conservative.

    I’m not sure the result is that remarkable though; the Brexit party vote perhaps cushioned the blow for Labour in many seats like this at the GE.

    My first inclination when this by-election was called was that it would be a Tory gain (I don’t go in for predictions, if you’re searching for evidence of me saying that). Choosing Paul Williams from a shortlist of 1 was a bad sign, added to him being a losing red wall candidate and an arch-remainer. It was a very poor choice IMO.

    Perhaps Hartlepool voters want some of the investment they’ve seen elsewhere. I also wonder if the demographic change in the town might be responsible for some of the shift in voting patterns. The C4 report on the Brexit party campaign in 2019 suggested there may be tensions over this. My gut feeling is that demographic change of this nature drives voters towards the Tories.

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