Residents of Hartlepool were quick to give their views after hearing of Jill Mortimer’s historic by-election win on Friday.
The Conservative candidate stormed to victory with a majority of 6,940 votes, ending Labour’s 57-year hold on the County Durham town.
Mrs Mortimer was declared the winner just after 7am after receiving 15,529 votes, with Labour’s Paul Williams finishing second on 8,589 votes and independent challenger Samantha Lee coming third with 2,904 votes.
Reacting to the news, one local said Labour would have to ‘climb to the moon and back’ to recoup what has been lost while others spoke of disillusionment with the party.
Another praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for visiting during the campaign, saying the trips showed ‘he cares’.
But a third resident, a retired primary school teacher, said she was ‘appalled’ by the result.
Residents of Hartlepool were quick to give their views after hearing of Jill Mortimer’s historic by-election win on Friday. Sheena Keers, 43, who works in the care sector, said: ‘I am really happy with this result’
Ms Keers added that she does not like Keir Starmer and praised Mr Johnson for visiting the town during the campaign. Pictured: Flanked by his new MP Jill Mortimer (right) in Hartlepool today, Boris Johnson said voters believe he can ‘deliver’ following the latest devastating hammer blow to the Red Wall
Sheena Keers, 43, who works in the care sector, said: ‘I am really happy with this result.
‘Things need to change in Hartlepool. I feel very let down by the Labour Party.
‘I am happy the Conservatives got in because we need more for this town.
‘At the moment it’s just going further and further down hill. Under the Conservatives, more money will be pumped into the town.
‘It’s also great that MP Jill Mortimer is the first woman MP. I think it’s a really positive thing, but we will just have to see.
‘There’s nothing Labour can do to turn this round now. Everything has to change.’
She added that she does not like Keir Starmer and praised Mr Johnson for visiting the town during the campaign.
‘I love the fact Boris Johnson came up here before the election. He made the effort and it shows he cares about Hartlepool.
‘I love Boris. He’s had a massive effect on the voting up here,’ she added.
Both Mr Johnson and Mr Starmer made three visits to the constituency during the campaign.
But Hartlepool pensioner Elizabeth Lyth, 76, a retired primary school teacher, said she was ‘appalled’ by the result.
‘Historically the Conservatives have done nothing for the North East,’ she said.
Hartlepool pensioner Elizabeth Lyth, 76, a retired primary school teacher, said she was ‘appalled’ by the result
‘Yesterday a 90-year-old neighbour of mine had a fall in his garden and he was left on the concrete for three hours before an ambulance arrived.
‘I am not blaming the ambulance service at all.
‘This Conservative government has been in power for 11 years and they have done nothing to improve the situation.
‘I think people in Hartlepool have abandoned the Labour Party because they are not thinking about it from a moral view point.
‘These days people are much more affluent than they were.
‘They don’t believe the issues impact them. I think there’s an element of ‘I’m all right Jack’ and that’s why they’ve voted Conservative.’
She added that she didn’t think Labour had the ‘right candidate’ and said the result had a ‘lot to do with Brexit’.
Liam Carr, 29, works in a shoe repair shop in Hartlepool town centre
Sir Keir Starmer stayed tight lipped as he left his London home after the Conservatives piled up a majority of nearly 7,000 in an extraordinary result – overturning the Opposition’s previous margin of 3,500
Liam Carr, 29, works in a shoe repair shop in Hartlepool town centre.
He said: ‘Everyone saw this result coming.
‘I agree with Labour’s policies but I don’t have confidence in them to follow through.
‘I don’t think anyone knows how it will pan out with the Conservatives, we’ll just have to see what happens.
‘I’m not sure what Labour can possibly to do turn things round. It will be many years before that happens.
‘I didn’t vote but I actually think having the Conservatives in power will work out for the best.
‘There needs to be some kind of change in this town.
‘It’s hard in the North East. Everyone knows that, and it’s only going to get harder.’
He added: ‘I think Brexit had a role in all this. The Brexit Party did very well in Hartlepool.
‘Everyone supported it up here, and now they are supporting the Conservatives instead.’
Philip Spence, 67, who worked as a cooked meat butcher before he retired, voted for the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Philip Spence, 67, who worked as a cooked meat butcher before he retired, voted for the Monster Raving Loony Party
He said: ‘I think the result is absolutely shocking. The Tories closed the Sure Start centres down.
‘I think they have something against the working man.
‘People would say my vote was a wasted vote because the MRLP were never going to get in but we all have the right to a democratic vote.
‘I think one of the reasons the Conservatives have got in is because of support for the Brexit Party.
‘When that collapsed people started voting Tory instead.
‘I have always voted Labour in the past but I have not voted for them this time as they have lost their direction.
‘At one time they were all for the working man. Now all the main parties treat it as a job and aim to make as much money as possible.’
‘I don’t think anyone cares anymore.
‘I was born in the 1950s and everyone cared back then.
‘Keir Starmer hasn’t been given much of a chance yet but I don’t think he’s concentrating on the issues that matter.
‘The main issue up here is unemployment.
‘My grandson is 21 and it’s taken him three years to get a job.
‘Before this election Labour had a mountain to climb. Now they will have to climb to the moon and back to recoup what they have lost.’
Mr Spence’s wife Susan, 58, added: ‘The Conservative win was a foregone conclusion.
Mr Spence’s wife Susan, 58, added: ‘The Conservative win was a foregone conclusion
‘I’m not very happy about it at all. I would prefer someone who lives in the town.
‘The focus is all on the Marina area and there are other places that need attention.
‘We lived on Rodney Street in Hartlepool for 32-years but we had to move out because of drug addicts.
‘I feel very let down by Labour. They have ruined the town. They became lazy and didn’t work hard enough.
‘I don’t think there is anything they can do to turn it round now. People have become disillusioned with them.’
Laurence Masterson, 69, who worked in newspaper distribution before he retired, said he was ‘really happy’ the Conservatives had been elected.
‘We need the Conservatives in at the moment to sort the country out,’ he said.
‘Hartlepool’s been Labour so long because it’s been passed down through families.’
Laurence Masterson, 69, who worked in newspaper distribution before he retired, said he was ‘really happy’ the Conservatives had been elected
He said people are now starting to ‘think for themselves’ and claimed Mr Starmer ‘is not a leader’.
‘This is a good result. The drugs need to be sorted out and so does the fighting in the middle of the road.
‘Changes need to be made and I hope the Conservatives are the people to do it,’ he added.
Phil Eldridge, 72, a retired graphic designer, said he voted Labour but knew that overall the result would be disastrous for the party.
He said: ‘It’s a sad day and I honestly think people will live to regret it.
‘I can’t think what MP Jill Mortimer has to offer this town.
‘People are associating Hartlepool’s problems with Labour but that’s not necessarily fair.
‘I have only lived in the area for around eight months and I have moved around quite a lot.
‘I have only ever lived in Conservative areas even though I have always been a Labour voter.
Phil Eldridge, 72, a retired graphic designer, said he voted Labour but knew that overall the result would be disastrous for the party
‘So this is particularly disappointing to me.’
He said he believed that, because of the coronavirus pandemic, voters want the Government to ‘succeed’.
Slamming the PM, he added: ‘I hate Boris Johnson. I really can’t stand him. To me he is a typical Tory.
‘I think Keir Starmer is a good man but it will take time for him to establish himself. It’s not clear what Labour stands for anymore.
‘They have lost many votes to Brexit supporters.
‘I don’t think the Conservative MP will bring change to the area. She is making promises but I don’t think much will happen.
‘I don’t think the Conservatives are the answer.
‘Jeremy Corbyn put a lot of people off voting Labour. But anything could happen before the next General Election.’
Andrea Mulcahy, 51, a civil servant, said: ‘We have had Labour in this town for 57 years and I am a little sick of it now.
Andrea Mulcahy, 51, a civil servant, said: ‘We have had Labour in this town for 57 years and I am a little sick of it now
‘My parents have always voted Labour but now it’s time for a change.
‘Whenever they have suggested doing something, it’s never been followed up.
‘Labour had become lazy and complacent because they had held this seat for so long.
‘I hope the Conservatives will bring more police to our streets and sort out our town centre.
‘There’s hardly anything here. I only come in when I have to.’
Ms Mulcahy said Mr Johnson had been doing a ‘great job’ with dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and said if former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had been in charge, ‘we would not have got through it as well’.
‘I don’t think there’s anything Labour can do to get the people of Hartlepool back on side,’ she added.
‘They’ve been here for six decades. We voted Labour in the hope they would do something for our town but they haven’t.
‘It’s about time Labour got kicked out. They have lost their way.
‘I feel let down by the party. I am really hoping some investment comes our way.
‘I never thought this would happen and I am hoping we will now see real change in Hartlepool. The Conservatives have to prove themselves.’
Mick Docherty, 58, works in a petrol station.
He said: ‘I really hope there will be investment in this town. That’s what we need and that’s what will make a difference.
‘We have been relying on the same people – Labour – for too long.
‘The party have become complacent here and they’ve not been doing enough.
Connor Vasey, 22, a bartender, said he had ‘lost all interest’ in politics since Mr Johnson was elected
‘I am not a great lover of Keir Starmer and I don’t approve of how he operated when he was a solicitor.
‘But I don’t mind Boris Johnson. I think he’s done a good job recently.
‘I have previously voted Lib Dem but this time round I voted Conservative and I am really happy with the result.’
Connor Vasey, 22, a bartender, said he had ‘lost all interest’ in politics since Mr Johnson was elected.
He said: ‘I was a strong supporter of Corbyn but since Boris Johnson got in I have lost all interest in politics. So I haven’t voted in this election.
‘We only had a strong leader with Corbyn and we have no chance with Keir Starmer.
‘He is not Prime Minister material.
‘Everyone has always said this town has been rubbish for a while but I think it’s fine. It’s what I am used to.
‘I am a Labour supporter at heart and I would have preferred them to get in.
‘Council tax here is ridiculously high and there’s not much to show for it. There also needs to be more investment in public areas. I would like those two things to change.’
Let it be BLUE! How Beatlemania was sweeping world in the swinging sixties when Hartlepool last had a Tory MP… before Jill Mortimer’s victory today signalled times have changed in former steel town
By Harry Howard for MailOnline
The last time the north-east town of Hartlepool had a Conservative MP, Beatlemania was spreading across the world and the average home cost just £3,000.
John Kerans, a former Royal Navy officer and author, was MP for Hartlepool from 1959 until 1964, when it was covered by its original constituency.
His predecessor, D.T. Jones, was the town’s first Labour MP and was elected in 1945 – the year of the party’s historic landslide victory over hero wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s Conservatives.
Kerans’s decision not to contest the Hartlepool seat at the 1964 election firmly cemented the strong association with the Labour party that the town had until Jill Mortimer’s victory today.
The people of the town, which has a proud industrial heritage as a one-time centre of steel production, coal mining and shipbuilding, opted to vote for a succession of Labour candidates.
Ted Leadbitter, who was elected after Kearns stood down, continued being the town’s MP when the current constituency was created in 1974.
After that, he continued in office until the 1992 election, when he stood down and was replaced by senior New Labour figure Peter Mandelson.
The last time the north-east town of Hartlepool had a Conservative MP, Beatlemania was spreading across the world and the average home cost just £3,000. John Kerans, a former Royal Navy officer and author, was MP for Hartlepool from 1959 until 1964, when it was covered by its original constituency. Pictured from left: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon, perform on the CBS ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in New York in 1964
Mandelson, who had served as the Labour Party’s director of communications from 1985 to 1990, gained a reputation for being media savvy, leading to him gaining the nickname of the ‘Prince of Darkness’.
At the 2001 election, Mandelson was famously challenged by Margaret Thatcher’s one-time nemesis Arthur Scargill, who was formerly president of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Although firebrand Scargill won less than 1,000 votes, Mandelson was challenged at the same election by former Labour Party press officer John Booth, who branded himself as ‘Genuine Labour’.
In his exuberant acceptance speech after victory over both men, as well as the Conservative candidate, Mandelson declared he was a ‘fighter, not a quitter’.
Mandelson opted to stand down as Hartlepool’s MP in 2004, when he took up a role as a European Commissioner.
John Kerans, a former Royal Navy officer and author, was MP for Hartlepool from 1959 until 1964, when it was covered by its original constituency. Ted Leadbitter, who was elected after Kearns stood down, continued being the town’s MP when the current constituency was created in 1974
Leadbitter was replaced by senior New Labour figure Peter Mandelson (left) at the 1992 election. Mandelson opted to stand down as Hartlepool’s MP when he took up a role as a European Commissioner in 2004. At the subsequent by-election, new Labour MP Ian Wright was elected with a much-reduced majority
At the subsequent by-election, new Labour MP Ian Wright was elected with a much-reduced majority.
Wright remained Hartlepool’s MP until 2017, when he announced he would not be seeking re-election.
He was replaced by Mike Hill, whose resignation in March amid sexual harassment allegations triggered last night’s by-election and Labour’s historic defeat.
Hartlepool’s reputation as a heartland of industry stretches back to the mid-19th century, when the then fishing town’s port and docks were built up, allowing it to become the third largest seaport in England.
Hartlepool was now able to act as a hub from which huge shipments of coal, wool and fish and steel could be sent around the country.
By 1862, Hartlepool had become one of the most successful coal exporters in the North-East, with shipments peaking in the late 1920s.
Hartlepool’s reputation as a heartland of industry stretches back to the mid-19th century, when the then fishing town’s port and docks were built up, allowing it to become the third largest seaport in England. Pictured: Workers in Hartlepool’s ship building industry
By 1862, Hartlepool had become one of the most successful coal exporters in the North-East, with shipments peaking in the late 1920s. Pictured: An old image of Hartlepool’s West Harbour area, including its coal dock to the right
As for its ship-building industry, the town was home to famous yards such as Gray’s, Irvine’s, Richardsons and Pounders. Pictured: A ship in Hartlepool’s docks
View of Central Shipyard from Central Dock in Hartlepool. It shows eight ships in stocks. The image was taken before Hartlepool’s ship building industry declined
South Durham Steel Works seen from Coronation Drive. In between the World Wars, Hartlepool suffered badly in the Great Depression of the 1930s
In 1977, the British Steel Corporation closed the Hartlepool steelworks, leading to the loss of 1,500 jobs. Pictured: South Durham Steel Works
As for its ship-building industry, the town was home to famous yards such as Gray’s, Irvine’s, Richardsons and Pounders.
Due to its importance as an industrial heartland, Hartlepool became a key target for German bombs in both the First and Second World War.
In between the wars, it had suffered badly in the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Whilst World War Two did allow the town’s shipbuilding and steel industries to recover after the decade of decline, the end of the conflict in 1945 saw both industries deteriorate once more.
The last ship to be built in Hartlepool, the Blanchland, left its dry dock in 1961.
In 1977, the British Steel Corporation closed the Hartlepool steelworks, leading to the loss of 1,500 jobs.
In the 1980s, the town suffered from very high levels of unemployment, which peaked at 30 per cent – the highest in the UK.
After the ship building industry disappeared, Hartlepool’s former docks were redeveloped into a bustling marina (pictured)
A more recent image of the Hartlepool seafront and harbour area shows how the old heavy industries have disappeared from the landscape
The most significant developments at Hartlepool of more recent times include the Hartlepool Historic Quay. Pictured: HMS Trincomalee at the attraction
In 2019, work started on a plan to further regenerate the waterfront in Hartlepool. Pictured: Boats moored at the town’s marina
Despite the regeneration, Hartlepool still has very high unemployment. Last year, it stood at 9.4 per cent, way above the UK average of around five per cent
In 1983, a further blow was dealt to the shrunken steel industry when British Steel announced 630 job cuts.
Ms Mortimer’s victory over Labour candidate Paul Williams marks just the fifth time since the Second World War that a candidate from the governing party has won a seat from the opposition in a by-election.
Chris Lloyd, features writer of the Northern Echo, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday that Labour lost the former stronghold because the party had not ‘moved into this new reality of life in the post-industrial North-East’.
He said that the town’s industrial heritage is now so far in the past that ‘people do not have the memory of those large monolithic industries on which the Labour movement is based.’
He added: ‘In Hartlepool, shipbuilding is now a nostalgia industry. And so the Conservatives are managing to move away from those old times by this levelling up agenda…’
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