Keir Starmer faces leadership threat from hard-Left as he blames Boris’s ‘vaccine bounce’ amid fears 40 PER CENT of former supporters are ‘set to shun Labour’ in Hartlepool by-election – as he and PM tour Britain on last push ahead of Super Thursday
- Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer mounting last push ahead of Super Thursday
- Labour fears rising about Red Wall meltdown in Hartlepool, West Mids and Tees
- Sir Keir has blamed a ‘vaccine bounce’ for dire polls and appealed for more time
A frantic last push is under way today on the eve of ‘Super Thursday’ – with Keir Starmer admitting he fears a ‘vaccine bounce’ for the Tories.
The Labour leader is facing the threat of a hard-Left coup with polls suggesting the party is on track for disaster in the crucial elections tomorrow.
One survey showed the Conservatives set for a stunning 17-point victory in the Hartlepool by-election, continuing Boris Johnson’s demolition of the ‘Red Wall’.
Labour’s own canvassing data shows only 40 per cent of the party’s previous supporters in Hartlepool have pledged to back it tomorrow, according to the Guardian. The figures come from 10,000 doors knocked during the campaign.
It would be only the second time in 38 years that a ruling party has snatched a seat from the Opposition in a by-election.
Meanwhile, other polls have indicated that Andy Street and Ben Houchen, the Tory mayors in former Labour strongholds of the West Midlands and Tees Valley, are on course to score victories.
Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson are braced for a frantic final day of campaigning before the Super Thursday elections
The graphic shows Labour’s poll position in the upcoming elections at the end of this week
Corbynites in Sir Keir’s party already appear to be sharpening their knives, with warnings that the leader will have to ‘consider his position’.
On a visit to Lancashire yesterday, Sir Keir desperately played down expectations, saying: ‘We are sailing into very strong headwinds. Because there is undoubtedly a strong vaccine bounce.’
Mr Johnson is expected to make a final pitch to the electorate in the West Midlands today, while Sir Keir will tour the country as he campaigns for votes.
With the coronavirus pandemic delaying a host of elections by 12 months, it means there will be two years’ worth of polls taking place across Great Britain on a single day on Thursday.
Voters will have their say on the make-up of English councils, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and decide who holds power in city halls, with a number of areas choosing regional mayors.
As part of Thursday’s slew of polls, Hartlepool will also elect a new MP as Labour looks to keep a seat that has been red since its inception in the 1970s.
In the West Midlands, former John Lewis boss Mr Street is projected to beat Labour’s Liam Byrne by 59 per cent to 41 per cent in the run-off – a huge improvement on his winning margin of less than 1 per cent in 2017.
The Tories also are on course for a landslide in Tees Valley, where incumbent Mr Houchen is expected to get 63 per cent support.
Tomorrow’s local elections, dubbed ‘Super Thursday’, are the biggest since 1973 and will be the first major electoral test for Sir Keir.
Voting is taking place everywhere in Great Britain – including for seats on 143 councils, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd, as well as for 12 directly elected mayors and 39 police and crime commissioners.
Party sources said Labour are in ‘huge trouble’ and they are also in danger of losing Durham and Sunderland councils for the first time in 50 years.
Internal data shows just over 40 per cent of previous Labour supporters said they will vote again for the party this week.
An insider said: ‘If we were knocking on every single door and getting 40 per cent, we could win it, depending on how it splits.
‘But we’re only getting about 40 per cent of people who we think are Labour, so it’s not great.’
In 2019, Labour held a 3,595-vote majority in the constituency after the Brexit Party split the Leave vote by taking 25 per cent.
Separate polls suggested the Tories will also romp home in two key mayoral races in former Labour heartlands.
Nicola Sturgeon is fighting the Holyrood elections on a promise to force another independence referendum – but support for splitting the union appears to be dropping
Sir Keir said it was always going to take longer than a year to fix the damage caused under former leader Jeremy Corbyn
Amid the gloomy polling, Sir Keir yesterday acknowledged his party had a ‘mountain to climb’ to rebuild trust with voters.
Defeat in Hartlepool would be a humiliating blow to his leadership.
Getting his excuses in early, the Labour leader yesterday said it was always going to take longer than a year to fix the damage caused under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I hope we won’t lose Hartlepool. We are fighting for every vote there. I know that every vote has to be earned.
‘I said on the day that I was elected that it was a mountain to climb. It is, we are climbing it and I’ve got a burning desire to build a better future for our country.
‘I don’t think anybody realistically thought that it was possible to turn the Labour Party round from the worst General Election result since 1935 to a position to win the next General Election within a period of one year. It was always going to take longer than that.’
Speaking on the campaign trail in Wales, Sir Keir added: ‘We lost very badly in December 2019, and my job is to rebuild trust and confidence and reconnection with the Labour Party and that’s what I’m doing. That will take time.’
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