Starmer asked if Labour has ‘lost touch’ after Hartlepool loss
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Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a huge backlash from all sides after the Labour Party suffered an embarrassing and crushing defeat in the Hartlepool by-election. In a shattering blow, the Conservative Party won with a majority of 6,940 – a seat Labour had held since it was formed in 1974. Paul Williams, an outspoken Remainer, shocked many when he was selected as Labour candidate for Hartlepool, where nearly 70 percent of people voted for the UK to leave the European Union.
Even allies of Sir Keir have admiteed the crushing defeat is an “absolutely shattering” hammer blow as yet another pillar in Labour’s once untouchable “Red Wall” crumbled.
Mr Galloway, who himself as leader of the All for Unity party in Scotland is attempting to deny Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP the majority required to push ahead with a second independence referendum, was a Labour MP for 28 years.
But he has been left furious by the party’s latest election humiliation, and has torn apart five of their key policies.
He wrote on Twitter: “Labour will continue to audit statues and police personal pronouns, proselytise for every weird and wonderful identity-politics fad, support the EU against Britain, succour separatism in Scotland and Wales until it disappears up its own fundament.”
Several people threw their support behind Mr Galloway’s comments, with one Twitter user replying: “The voters can see this George, so why not the Labour politicians themselves? They are totally detached from reality.”
A second person tweeted: “Keir Starmer killed them off. As much as I disliked Corbyn he got the younger generation out voting Labour.
“Starmer has undone all that and more especially when he uttered the phrase “please give labour another look.”
Another Twitter user replied: “They are appealing to a small minority but chasing the majority of normal people away.
“If the Labour Party was a business reliant on customers it would be insolvent.”
Boris Johnson celebrated the by-election victory when he visited Hartlepool, and said: “I think what this election shows is that people want a party and a government that is focused on them, focused on delivering change.
“I think what’s happened now is they can see that we did get Brexit done and to a certain extent they can see that we delivered on that.
“And I think what people want us to do now is to get on with delivering with everything else.”
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But Sir Keir now faces mounting pressure following the loss in the North East constituency – a key seat within the “Red Wall” that Labour had held for nearly 50 years.
Labour MP Steve Reed, a member of Sir Keir’s top team, described the Hartlepool result as “absolutely shattering” and told the BBC: “It tells us that the pace of change in the Labour Party has not been fast enough.”
Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accused Labour of going into the by-election “almost policy-less” and called for a return to a “real grassroots campaign”.
He told the BBC: “We must never again send our candidates into an election campaign almost naked, without a policy programme, without a clear view on what sort of society you want to create.”
Other Labour politicians were quick to blame the loss on a hangover from the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Peter Mandelson, who was Labour MP for Hartlepool from 1992 to 2004, said: “I feel pretty angry because I think we could have seen this coming some time ago, indeed years ago.
“Since Labour left office in 2010 we haven’t played it well,” said Peter Mandelson, who was the Labour lawmaker for Hartlepool from 1992 and 2004.
“We’ve lost contact with many of the respectable, working-class bedrock voters,” said Mandelson, a minister under former prime minister Tony Blair.”
However Diane Abbott, a key ally of Mr Corbyn, firmly pointed the finger of blame at Sir Keir for the Hartlepool defeat.
She said: “Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result. Keir Starmer must think again about his strategy.”
Sir Keir took over as Labour leader just over a year ago after Jeremy Corbyn had led the party to one of its worst general election performances for several decades, even losing seats in the northern heartlands the party had held for several years.
That was the first sign of the “red wall” beginning to crumble, but Sir Keir has been unable to reduce the speed at which this is now happening.
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