Hartlepool has been in Labour hands since the constituency's creation in 1974, highlighting the significance of the Conservative's dominant by-election win there last night. The Tory candidate Jill Mortimer came away with 51.9 percent of the vote while Labour suffered a 9-point drop on 2019 with Paul Williams attracting just 28.7 percent of the ballots.
It didn't all start going downhill in 2021 though. When we look back at the last couple of elections, we can see how the seat has been sliding away from Labour over the last few years. Robust challenges from the Lib Dems and UKIP in 2004 and 2015, respectively, gave the party something to think about, but never really culminated in a longer-term threat to their grip on power. Their position has been eroded over the last two election cycles though. Now party leader Keir Starmer, faced with other losses across the country, is under pressure to explain why he and Labour so spectacularly failed the first major test of his leadership.