Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer has a seven-point lead over the Labour Party’s Dr Paul Williams in the Hartlepool by-election, a new survey has found a little over five weeks ahead of the upcoming vote on May 6th.
Research carried out by Survation and commissioned by trade union CWU suggested that 49% of voters are now backing the Tory candidate while 42% support Williams. A large body of respondents (28%) reported that they were ‘undecided’.
The then Labour candidate Mike Hill won with a 37% vote share in the 2019 general election as the anti-Labour vote split between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party, with each receiving 28.9% and 25.8% of the vote respectively.
Brexit Party successor Reform UK is currently polling on 1% in the constituency. 31% of those who said they were undecided voted for the Brexit Party in the last election, while 21% supported Labour and 19% backed the Conservatives.
Keir Starmer has a net favourability rating with Labour voters in Hartlepool of +30. Boris Johnson’s net favourable rating is +80 with Conservative voters. Overall, Starmer has a net score of -14 to the Prime Minister’s +19.
Labour has made NHS pay, and in particular nurses’ pay, a central part of its campaign messaging with the Labour leader and Shadow Health Secretary telling the public that “a vote for Labour is a vote to support our nurse”.
The government has recommended that NHS workers receive a pay rise of 1%, which amounts to a real-terms pay cut as it fails to keep pace with inflation. Ministers have argued that nurses have received a 12.8% increase since 2017/18.
This claim, repeated by Johnson in the House of Commons, does not account for inflation or the impact of austerity on their wages up to 2017. It also only applies to one group of nurses working rather than all those working in the NHS.
The research showed strong support for increased pay for nurses. 43% supported a 3% pay rise for nurses while 42% back a higher 10% increase. Only 10% of those surveyed supported the offer currently formally on the table for nurses.
Free broadband for all UK homes, a policy developed with the commissioner of this latest Survation poll, was backed by a large majority of Hartlepool residents in the research. 69% supported the policy against just 18% who were opposed.
Labour pledged in the 2019 general election to deliver free and fast full-fibre broadband for all by 2030. It planned to bring some of BT into public ownership, including Openreach and other relevant parts, and create a new public entity.
The policy would have been funded by Labour’s ‘green transformation fund’ and, focusing on connecting rural communities in particular, could have resulted in 300 million fewer commuting trips and 360,000 tonnes fewer carbon emissions.
The policy has become increasingly relevant as many in the UK switched to working from home in the pandemic. Labour MP Stella Creasy said in June last year that “things have changed in terms of the importance of accessing broadband”.
A significant majority of the electorate in the northern seat also supported the re-nationalisation of Royal Mail, which was privatived in 2014. 57% backed taking the postal service back into public ownership compared to 29% against.
Family doctor and former MP for Stockton South Dr Paul Williams was announced as the Labour candidate for the upcoming Hartlepool parliamentary by-election last month after he was the only applicant to be ‘longlisted’ by a panel of three.