Labour council leaders toppled today as the Conservatives starting building their own ‘Blue Wall’ in the North East and marched further into Labour’s working class heartlands as Sir Keir Starmer’s party continued to struggle.
Conservative Ben Houchen was re-elected as Tees Valley Mayor with a whopping 73 per cent of the vote, up from 40 per cent in the 2017 election, while Labour leaders in Sheffield, Oldham and Harlow were among 120 of its councillors in England to lose seats so far. In contrast, the Tories gained 95 seats and the Lib Dems gained five.
Labour group leaders lost their seats in Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire – the latter being where Labour was expecting a better result, but ended up seeing a Tory hold and majority extension.
The Tories took Northumberland for the first time since the 1970s, which had been under no overall control but was traditionally Labour before that, as well as getting shock new councillors in traditionally Left-wing communities in Sunderland and on Tyneside.
After the Northumberland result came in this morning and the Tories returned an MP for Hartlepool for the first time in 62 years in a landslide vote, supporters took to social media to declare: ‘The Red Wall is now The Blue Wall.’
With just 29 of the 122 councils declaring so far, Boris Johnson described the early election results as ‘very encouraging’ for his party as any Labour revival were already dealt a crushing blow after an awful polling day.
Labour-run Harlow was turned from red to blue as Essex voters threw out Sir Keir Starmer’s councillors in six of its seven wards while in the south of the county, the Tories won six more seats, increasing its majority over Labour to nine in Thurrock.
In Dudley, Labour won just three seats, down from 11, with the Tories winning all the remaining 23 seats as they also made major inroads in the West Midlands. It was the same picture in Nuneaton and Bedworth, where Labour only won one seat after a number of their councillors were voted out.
Boris Johnson’s party also chipped away at Labour’s gigantic majority in Sunderland, one of its true strongholds in England, taking 18 seats as Sir Keir Starmer’s party took a battering at the polls yesterday. In the city’s Ryhope ward, a former docker area, the Tories took it with a 38% swing away from Labour.
In Newcastle, Gateshead and Tyneside they also struggled, losing seats to the Tories as well as the Green Party, Lib Dems and Independents, but the areas remained under Labour control with reduced majorities. Newcastle’s Labour leader Nick Forbes admitted the party was facing a bleak night as they lost seats across the North East.
Sir Keir Starmer was given a bloody nose as:
- Labour lost its Hartlepool seat, which has returned a Tory MP for the first time in decades;
- Tories win 23 of the 26 seats on Dudley Council – up 11 seats since 2016 – as Labour is almost wiped out there;
- The party lost Harlow Council to the Tories, who also gained Northumberland, Redditch and Nuneaton councils;
- Labour held strongholds of Oldham, Newcastle and Sunderland but lost significant numbers of seats, especially to the Tories but also the Green, Lib Dem and independent candidates;
- In Scotland, the SNP gained East Lothian from Labour and Ayr from the Tories, winning the vast majority of the seats declared with three going to the Lib Dems, one to Labour and one to the Conservatives;
- Former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, lost her seat to Angus Robertson in Edinburgh Central, which he declared an ’emphatic and unparalleled victory’ for the SNP
- In Wales, after 14 seats had been declared Labour had nine, the Conservatives four and Plaid Cymru one;
- Only one of Wales’ so-called red wall seats, the Vale of Clwyd, fell to the Welsh Conservatives, while Labour sources are also confident of unseating the former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood in Rhondda.
The Tories finally gained Northumberland County Council after a decade of no overall control and previous Labour dominance dating back almost 5 decades
A disappointed and under pressure Sir Keir Starmer leaves his house in north London after it was announced that the Conservative Party have won the Hartlepool by-election as a victorious Boris Johnson fixed a leaky pipe during a visit to Severn Trent Academy in Coventry
Dudley is turned almost entirely blue after Labour took an absolute pasting and
The Tories also made inroads into Wolverhampton overnight, taking five new seats from Labour
Labour lost control of Harlow in Essex, losing six of its seven seats as voters rejected the party’s candidates at the polls
Labour also lost all but one of its seats in Nuneaton and Bedoworth, with the Tories clearing up on a bad night for their rival party
Brexit meant that Ukip’s seats on Thurrock council have been wiped out by the Tories, who increased their majority over Labour overnight
Southend remained under no overall control but the Tories edged towards one as Labour lost a seat
Labour has held Oldham and Rochdale, but Greens, Tories and Independents made inroads
Staunchly Labour Sunderland was held by the party, but the Tories and Lib Dems made big gains in one of the party’s heartlands
On South Tyneside, every seat in 2016 was Labour – the party has held it but lost seats to the Tories, the Greens and an independent
Labour held Newcastle, but lost seats as traditional voters moved away from Sir Keir Starmer’s party
In Stockport, Greater Manchester, there was no overall control, with the Lib Dems enjoying the best night among the main parties
The Tories have won Hartlepool, and a comparison between today and 2001 show how Labour has lost many of its heartlands
Conservative Ben Houchen (pictured with his wife Rachel today) was re-elected as Tees Valley Mayor with a whopping 73 per cent of the vote, up from 40 per cent in the 2017 election
Tories take a wrecking ball to Labour’s Red Wall AGAIN with historic Hartlepool by-election win by 7,000 votes – as Keir Starmer vows ‘no excuses’
Jill Mortimer (pictured after being declared the victor) will now serve as the constituency’s MP in Westminster after she trounced Labour contender Paul Williams
Boris Johnson delivered a devastating hammer blow to Sir Keir Starmer today as the Tories romped to an historic victory in the Hartlepool by-election.
Labour has held the seat since it was created back in the 1970s but Sir Keir was left humiliated as the Conservatives piled up a majority of nearly 7,000 – overturning the previous margin of 3,500.
Jill Mortimer will now serve as the constituency’s MP in Westminster after she trounced Labour contender Paul Williams. ‘Labour have taken the people of Hartlepool for granted for too long… people have had enough,’ she said in her speech.
The official announcement of the result was made just after 7am but Labour had already conceded defeat hours earlier, with shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon telling Sky News that ‘we are not close to winning this’.
The victory by 15,529 to 8,589 votes shows that Boris Johnson’s realignment of the British political landscape is continuing, with more of the so-called Red Wall collapsing. The 16 per cent swing is believed to be the biggest to a governing party in a by-election since the Second World War.
It heaps pressure on Sir Keir amid a growing revolt from hard-Left activists. A senior source admitted this morning that Labour had ‘not changed nearly enough’ to woo voters and insisted there will be no ‘excuses’.
The party is now bracing for further bad news as the votes are counted in England’s council and mayoral battles following ‘Super Thursday’ elections.
Questions are being asked over the choice of a Remainer former MP as the Labour candidate in Brexit-voting Hartlepool.
As brutal recriminations begun, Corbyn allies Diane Abbott and John McDonnell were among those demanding a more left-wing approach.
Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted: ‘Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well… or not?’
Corbynite MP Richard Burgon said: ‘We are going backwards in areas we need to be winning. Labour’s leadership needs to urgently change direction.’
The Tories are also celebrating after wrestling Harlow Council in Essex from Labour and gaining control of Nuneaton & Bedworth, Redditch and Dudley councils in the West Midlands, all three of which previously had no overall control.
The Tories won several Labour seats while also cutting the gap in other seats with strong Labour majorities as they saw swings of up to 30 per cent in some contests causing yet more grief for Sir Keir.
The swing towards the Tories came as the party delivered a devastating hammer blow to Labour today as the Tories romped to an historic victory in the Hartlepool by-election.
In Ryhope in Sunderland, the Tories increased their vote share by 30 per cent to beat Labour, while in Newsham, Northumberland, the Tories increased their vote share by 25.7 per cent to take the seat before the council fell.
Other parties also chipped away at Labour council wards, with the Liberal Democrats boosting their vote by an astonishing 55 per cent to win Pallion in Sunderland from Sir
A Labour source said leader Sir Keir Starmer would ‘take responsibility for these results’. They added: ‘We’ve said all along the North East and the Midlands would be difficult. We also said the places declaring Thursday would be particularly difficult.’
While Nick Forbes, Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, said results were promising in his city but admitted the party was facing a bleak night in other parts of the country, as was proved when the results began to come in.
The Conservatives won all nine of the seats being contested in Redditch, the first council result of the night, gaining seven seats from Labour.
There was no change of control, with the Conservatives holding 25 seats on the new council and Labour just four, losing both their leader and deputy leader.
They did however take control of Nuneaton & Bedworth after winning 13 of the first 14 seats declared.
Harlow also went to the Conservatives for the first time since 2008, with Conservative Harlow MP Robert Halfon sharing his pride at the result.
He said: ‘Proud of @HarlowTories Councillors. Won 11 seats, including 7 from Labour as well as defeating the Harlow Labour Council leader,’ he tweeted.
‘Harlow Council now under @HarlowTories @Conservatives control for only the second time in the history of our town.’
Nuneaton’s Conservative MP Marcus Jones expressed his joy after the Conservatives gained control of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council from Labour.
‘I’m delighted that @NuneatonMatters and @BedworthTories gained a massive 11 seats and will now take control of @NBBCouncil,’ he posted on Twitter.
‘A missive (sic) effort by all concerned. Thank you to everyone that supported the Conservative candidates.’
As results started to come in, a Labour source said: ‘We’ve said all along the North East and the Midlands would be difficult.
‘We also said the places declaring Thursday would be particularly difficult.
‘But the message from voters is clear and we have heard it – Labour has not yet changed nearly enough for voters to place their trust in us.
‘We understand that. We are listening. And we will now redouble our efforts.
‘Labour must now accelerate the programme of change in our party, to win back the trust and faith of working people across Britain.
Counting gets underway for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Constituency and Regional votes in Inverness for the Scottish Parliament
Votes are now being counted for the local and mayoral elections at the Wavertree Tennis Centre, Liverpool, with results expected later
Liverpool elects first black female mayor
Liverpool has elected its first black female mayor as Labour held on to the role despite corruption allegations.
Joanne Anderson was named as the successor to Joe Anderson on Friday, after the former mayor chose not to stand following his arrest as part of a Merseyside Police fraud investigation.
After her victory, Ms Anderson, no relation to her predecessor, apologised for the previous administration, referring to the findings of a report by local government inspector Max Caller, which included themes of bullying, intimidation, ‘dubious’ deals and ‘jobs for the boys’.
Speaking after she was declared the new mayor, Ms Anderson said: ‘The first thing I want to do is apologise to the city for what’s happened in terms of the Caller investigation and what’s happened under the previous administration.
‘I’ve stood up because I want to make this right and I will do everything in my power to make it right.’
She pledged to give the city an ‘accountable and transparent’ authority that the ‘people of Liverpool deserve’.
Commissioners appointed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are taking over some of the city council’s functions for the next three years following the report.
Independent candidate Stephen Yip, founder of children’s charity Kind Liverpool, came in second place in the mayoral race with 32,079 votes to Ms Anderson’s 46,493 after second round votes were counted.
Previous mayor Mr Anderson, who had been in the role since its creation in 2012, announced on New Year’s Eve he would not stand for re-election.
Three female candidates, councillors Wendy Simon, Ann O’Byrne and Anna Rothery, had been in the running to stand for Labour but in February the party announced it was reopening the selection process and did not invite the previous candidates to apply.
‘People don’t want to hear excuses. Keir has said he will take responsibility for these results – and he will take responsibility for fixing it and changing the Labour Party for the better.’
Newcastle’s Labour mayor Mr Forbes said: ‘I think Labour has been offering a message of hope throughout this election campaign.
‘But it has been a very strange campaign because of Covid. I have spoken to people on the doorstep in the last few days who haven’t wanted to come out and vote even though they are Labour supporters because they are self-isolating.
‘And of course we have had the national campaign around the vaccinations and at times like this people do tend to rally to the government of the day, whatever colour it is.
‘But there is no doubt there are warning signs for Labour in what starts to look like a difficult set of election results for us here tonight.
‘We need to be the change makers. We need to be the people who are offering hope for the future. We need to be the party that people can trust with future generations’ opportunities.
‘And that message isn’t quite breaking through yet, probably because of Covid and a very difficult year for election campaigning but we must redouble our efforts to get that message across to voters for next year’s elections.
Meanwhile in Hartlepool, shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon, who led the Opposition party’s campaign to hold the North East town, said it looked clear that Labour had not ‘got over the line’.
Shadow cabinet minister Thangam Debbonaire also admitted the party’s message had not been cutting through.
‘We’ve got a great team who cannot wait to be able to cut through more and I hear what people are saying, it’s not cutting through, I get that,’ she told BBC’s Question Time.
‘I think that’s a lesson for the Labour Party that we’re going to have to take into account.’
But in a sign of the discontent on the Labour left, MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle appeared to mock the party’s attempts to change its image.
He said: ‘Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well … or not?’
The comment seemed to be a reference to a leaked strategy document which suggested Labour must make ‘use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly’ to win back voters in red wall seats in the party’s former industrial heartlands.
Nick Forbes, Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, said results were promising in his city but admitted the party was facing a bleak night across the country
Hilton Dawson (left), of The North East Party sits with party supporters as they wait for the count process to begin in the Hartlepool Parliamentary By-election
Welsh Labour exceeds expectations
Welsh Labour appears to have exceeded expectations as counting for the Welsh Parliament election continues.
Only one of Wales’ so-called red wall seats, the Vale of Clwyd, fell to the Welsh Conservatives, while Labour sources are also confident of unseating the former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood in Rhondda.
Changes to ensure social distancing at venues means counting for all constituencies may not finish on Friday, which would see the process being adjourned until Saturday morning.
Some regional counts also look set to be pushed back to Saturday.
At the start of the election campaign, polling suggested Labour was facing its worst ever result and was at risk of winning as few as 22 of the Senedd’s 60 seats, a loss of seven from 2016.
After voting polls closed at 10pm on Thursday, party sources said retaining all of its seats in the Senedd remained ‘a massive challenge’.
But on Friday evening, confirmed results as well as indications from parties contesting seats across the country means Mark Drakeford’s party is confident of ending up just short of an outright majority once again.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped and expected that Boris Johnson would not block another independence referendum on the back of another strong showing from her party.
‘When we get to that point we will take the action, introduce the legislation that would be necessary for an independence referendum, and if Boris Johnson wants to stop that he would have to go to court,’ she told Channel 4 News.
‘I hope and expect that wouldn’t happen because actually Boris Johnson is not exempt from the rules of democracy.’
She added: ‘If this was in almost any other democracy in the world it would be an absurd discussion.
‘If people in Scotland vote for a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, no politician has got the right to stand in the way of that.’
The SNP has won the vast majority of the seats declared so far, including the key seat of Edinburgh Central, formerly held by Ruth Davidson.
Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson overturned the Conservative majority of 810, taking 16,276 votes after record numbers of voters turned out in the Scottish capital.
Mr Robertson, who led the SNP at Westminster before losing his Moray seat at the 2017 general election, said: ‘This result is an emphatic and an unparalleled victory for the SNP in Edinburgh Central.
‘We have just won the seat of the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives and recorded the best ever SNP result.’
Ms Davidson has stood down from Holyrood and will take up a seat in the House of Lords.
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s Daniel Johnson won the first seat of the election for his party, holding Edinburgh Southern.
He won 20,760 votes to SNP candidate Catriona MacDonald’s 16,738.
The Scottish Conservatives took 5,258 votes and the Scottish Liberal Democrats 2,189.
Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton retained the Edinburgh Western seat with 25,578 votes, giving a majority of 9,885.
The SNP’s Sarah Masson was in second place with 15,693 votes.
Turnout at all three Edinburgh constituencies counted on Friday was higher than at any other Scottish Parliament election.
#StarmerOut: Keir Starmer becomes subject of humiliating memes as fury builds over Labour’s loss in Hartlepool by-election and faces more pain at the polls today
Labour leader Keir Starmer became a figure of ridicule this morning as he was subjected to an avalanche of memes urging him to stand down after party stronghold Hartlepool was won by the Tories.
As #StarmerOut began to gain traction on Twitter the 58-year-old was likened to a clown and suggested to be so weak he could be defeated by a feather.
Another teasing image mocked him up as Rick Moranis’s bumbling character in film Honey I Shrunk The Kids, this time titled ‘Honey I shrunk the Labour Party’.
And he was even photoshopped so he replaced Boris Johnson in the humiliating picture of him waving flags stuck on a zipline.
A more niche ribbing featured the The League of Gentlemen’s Creme Brulee member Les McQueen looking deflated caption as if it was Sir Keir visiting Hartlepool.
It came hours after Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle took to
Starmer was mocked up to look ridiculous in many of the memes slating the Labour leader
This meme put his head on a picture of Boris Johnson looking absurd stuck on a zipline
Another meme showed former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laughing and drinking alcohol
One meme about Starmer showed a scene from the League of Gentlemen TV show
One picture posted online showed praise for Jeremy Corbyn spoiling a ballot paper
He said: ‘Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well… or not?’
The comment seemed to be a reference to a leaked strategy document which suggested Labour must make ‘use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly’ to win back voters in red wall seats in the party’s former industrial heartlands.
Labour’s new strategy was based on extensive focus groups conducted in places from Watford to Grimsby last September alongside UK polls. It was suggested displays of patriotism are needed to reinforce the idea the party has changed and to win back losses in the 2019 election.
Mr Russel-Moyle became the first Labour MP to publicly question Sir Keir and his strategy.
One meme of Sir Keir showed him in the Houses of Parliament made up to look like a clown
This image on Twitter made him look like he was too weak to beat a feather in the boxing ring
Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle has publicly mocked his party’s election strategy
Labour are facing a disastrous Super Thursday in a blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s bid to rebuild after the losses the party suffered in 2019
The result in Hartlepool
Jill Mortimer, Conservative
15,529 (51.88 per cent of total vote, up 22.96 per cent on 2019)
Paul Williams, Labour
8,589 (28.69 per cent, down 8.99 per cent)
Sam Lee, Independent
2,904 (9.70 per cent)
Claire Martin, Heritage
468 (1.56 per cent)
John Prescott, Reform
368 (1.23 per cent)
Rachel Featherstone, Green
358 (1.20 per cent)
Andrew Hagon, Lib Dem
349 (1.17 per cent, down 2.97 per cent)
The Brighton MP was an ally of previous leader Jeremy Corbyn before joining the shadow frontbench under Sir Keir.
He stepped down as the shadow minister for air quality and the natural environment last July.
His resignation came weeks after he apologised to author JK Rowling for writing an article where he accused her of ‘using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating’ against trans people.
In 2018, he hit headlines after he was suspended from the Commons for picking up the ceremonial mace in protest at a Brexit vote being deferred.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle reacted furiously after the Government whip formally postponed the vote – because then-PM Theresa May was facing a humiliating defeat.
The mace is the symbol of the authority of the House and during sittings is placed on the table next to the despatch box in front of the Speaker.
In 2019, Russell-Moyle joined thirteen other Labour MPs on Westminster Bridge, next to the Houses of Parliament, in a protest against Brexit under the banner ‘Love Socialism Hate Brexit’.
Hartlepool is expected to be the first major result announced after a raft of elections across the UK, with Boris Johnson hopeful of snatching the seat from Labour which has held the constituency since its inception in the 1970s.
Counting is now underway in the Hartlepool by-election as the Tories try to win the seat from Labour
The Labour Party has held Hartlepool since the constituency’s inception back in the 1970s
The Tories were increasingly confident of victory in Hartlepool – and saw it as a result which would steady Mr Johnson’s premiership after a tumultuous few weeks littered with various rows.
The defeat for Sir Keir piled the pressure on his leadership and reignite questions over whether he can reverse Labour’s fortunes ahead of the 2024 general election.
Labour sources were downbeat about the party’s chances in council elections in England as they said they expected some ‘grim’ results this morning.
Early declarations in some council seats in the north east of England suggested Labour was struggling.
Sir Keir was said to be preparing a brutal reshuffle of his shadow cabinet within days, with shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth tipped for demotion.
He was sounding out high-profile figures, including former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper, about a possible return to the Labour frontbench.
Frontbenchers regarded as strong media performers such as shadow schools minister Wes Streeting are being tipped for promotion.
Sir Keir has said he will ‘carry the can’ if the local election results go badly, but he is expected to try to revitalise his top team amid concerns many of them have been under-performing.
Another being lined up for the sack is thought to be shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz, with a reshuffle pencilled in for the next week.
In a sign that Sir Keir was expecting a difficult set of results, a Labour source said: ‘These were always going to be tough elections for Labour. Keir has always been honest about the mountain we must climb to rebuild trust to win the next general election.’
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