Lisa Nandy admits defeat in Hartlepool by-election: ‘No idea what a Red Wall seat is’

Lisa Nandy discusses the concept of the 'red wall'

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Ms Nandy claimed not to know what the Red Wall is despite her party funnelling all resources into Hartlepool in order to stop the crumbling of Labour’s once dominant position across the Midlands and North of England. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is currently scrambling to garner support across a band of working class communities where much of the so-called Red Wall is located. He was dealt a blow this week after a poll found the Conservative Party had a thumping 17-point lead in Hartlepool.

The port town has become one of the stars of the May elections, being one of only a handful of seats that survived Labour’s 2019 general election purge.

Many of those Red Wall seats turned to the Conservatives after nearly four years of ardent pro-Remain Labour MPs championing Brussels and a People’s Vote despite their constituents having voted to leave the EU.

Despite the very real prospect of Labour losing the last remnants of its Red Wall, Ms Nandy, during a Policy Exchange seminar with Labour MP Jon Cruddas, claimed not to know what the term Red Wall meant, rejecting the umbrella term.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said: “I rang Jon up earlier just to find out what I was supposed to be doing ahead of this event and ended up having a 20-minute rant about the phrase the ‘Red Wall’.

“I have no idea what most people are talking about when they talk about the ‘Red Wall’ and I don’t think they do either – it means whatever you want it to mean.

“It’s really unhelpful and it signifies to people in those areas that Labour though they were Labour towns and now the Tories think they’re Tory towns when they talk about the ‘Blue Wall’.

“These are people who are smarter than the political establishment who are supposed to represent them, who saw these changes coming, who looked at the global and domestic political system, and felt that nobody really spoke for them and hadn’t done for some time, and who voted on that basis.

“And that’s why we’ve seen this huge, seismic political upheaval that most of the political establishment frankly didn’t see coming.

“We saw it in the UK but we saw it in the US as well where fewer than 100,000 voters switching from Clinton to Trump in the Rust Belt put Donald Trump in the White House.”

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Ms Nandy’s comments appear to suggest she is expecting a Tory victory in Hartlepool as she feels the political establishment is still obsessing over its definition of the Red Wall, whereas voters are a step ahead and know what direction they want to go in.

As Hartlepool had a Leave majority of almost 70 percent, the consensus is that the seat will back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party as he has delivered on his “get Brexit done” mandate.

On Tuesday, campaigners began describing the three polls which found Labour to be considerably behind the Tories as the “hat-trick”, according to Politico’s Playbook.

The polls revealed that Mr Johnson’s candidates were ahead in not only Hartlepool but also the West Midlands and Tees Valley.

Many Labour MPs are believed to have been set on winning all three areas.

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A former frontbencher under Jeremy Corbyn told The Independent: “If we don’t win all three of those on Thursday, that will be a disaster.

“It’s a pretty low bar to set.

“If we can’t clear it, then the plan clearly isn’t working.”

Labour’s Liam Byrne is running in the West Midlands, having told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge last month that he was going to win comfortably.

Despite the new poll, conducted by Opinium for The Times, Mr Byrne is still confident that he can win the seat.

A source told Sienna Rodgers of Labour List that the latest Midlands poll was “b****ks” and that it did not reflect “what they’re seeing on the ground”.

Sir Keir will begin Thursday’s campaigning in the West Midlands with Mr Byrne, later travelling to West Yorkshire and the West of England.

In Hartlepool, Labour faces the risk of the vote getting split by the Northern Independence Party (NIP).

According to the Survation poll, carried out for Good Morning Britain, NIP currently stand in third place with six percent of the Hartlepool vote.

The NIP says it is not splitting the vote, arguing instead that it is the only credible left-wing vote in the by-election, as the Tories are now “more progressive” than Labour, according to Politics Home.

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