Keir Starmer and the Labour Party woke up this morning with news from Hartlepool that another red wall seat has fallen to the Conservatives in dramatic fashion. The next general election is three years away but 10 Downing Street will be celebrating if this stark trend continues throughout the weekend.
Election results are expected across the UK as counting begins in earnest. Were the Conservatives to retain the West Midlands and Tees Valley mayoralties, a good night on Thursday would become a better weekend for the party. Council results are trickling in, with Labour holding Newcastle and Sunderland (despite big losses) and Conservatives taking councils in the Midlands and Essex.
A political reset?
So far, so good for Boris Johnson and is the 2019 general election formula here to stay? The pandemic has in effect frozen politics for a year and these elections have come at a good time for the government. The economy is re-opening and vaccine rollout a success. For Keir Starmer however, the early results suggest he faces a clear crisis.
Voters in red wall seats who dramatically lent their votes to the government in 2019 will have stayed with it if this trend continues. Yet, they will want to see bold promises kept and that judgement will be made over the next few years. All of which means that irrespective of results this weekend, a scramble for investment and policy support is about to start.
The first milestone will be the Queen’s Speech next week. Successful results will also boost Boris Johnson as they remind rank and file MPs of his election-winning prowess. As Deputy Managing Partner Will Wallace explains in this video, the Prime Minister may want to move quickly. There may be a reshuffle and a re-focus on delivery of the Conservatives’ domestic policy agenda.
What next for Labour?
The reaction of the Labour Party may be swift. Questions will be asked about the local campaign in Hartlepool. There are bigger issues being raised concerning the ability of the Party to define its offer to voters and re-unite traditional support in the cities in areas such as Hartlepool. Rumours of a reshuffle may become reality as calls mount for a more radical shake-up.
Devolved administrations and local results
One of the biggest stories is likely to emerge in Scotland, where counting for Holyrood takes place on Friday and Saturday. Will the SNP form a pro-independence majority? If so, battle lines across the union will be set for years to come and Downing Street’s mettle will be tested. Such a result may even provide some distraction from the woes Labour could face elsewhere.
And in other races yet to be called, Labour faces an uphill battle to form a majority in the Welsh Assembly, expects to re-confirm Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London and hopes to perform better in local elections across the country. It will be an interesting weekend but also a staging point. Politics moves on to the battle of ideas about the recovery and who benefits from it.
Races to watch
Interel will be providing more detailed analysis of the races on Monday. Exact timings of results will depend on a number of factors. Early indications are:
- West Midlands Mayor – result expected Saturday afternoon
- Tees Valley Mayor – result expected Friday evening
- Mayor of London and London Assembly – result expected Saturday evening
- Scotland – constituency results expected on Friday and Saturday, proportional representation seats on Saturday evening
- Welsh Assembly – results expected on Friday.