On the eve of the Hartlepool by-election we assess the current state of the political parties from left, right and centre with articles from The Guardian, The Telegraph and on-line magazine Unherd by Larry Elliott, Allistair Heath and Peter Franklin respectively. All agree this up-coming by-election may prove seminal for Labour.
We lead with the following analysis by Larry Elliott for the Guardian:
"Labour is now more fundamentally split over Europe than the Tories were under Thatcher and Major. The bulk of the party’s supporters voted remain and still feel strongly that the result of the referendum was bad for Britain. A significant minority, concentrated in towns such as Hartlepool, voted leave and have resented being told that they got it wrong.
Responsibility for this rift lies primarily with the hardline remainer element in the party, which, having gifted the Tories one election victory, now looks set to hand them the next one as well. A series of political blunders has made it much harder for Labour to piece together the electoral coalition it needs to win.
The full article can be read below with links to the original beneath it.
From the Conservative perspective, we enclose the following article by Allister Heath from the Telegraph. His prognosis for Labour is similarly foreboding:
"Obsessed with Twitter, convinced of their own moral superiority, consumed with a demented, irrational hatred of a Prime Minister they loathe almost as much as Margaret Thatcher, the modern Left no longer understands England, English politics or even themselves. The truth, in many cases, is just too painful to countenance.
If anything, the Labour Party is in an even worse place than the Tories were in the mid-1990s, when senior figures would insist, pathetically, that Britain was a naturally Conservative country, just before they were wiped out for a generation by a radical, transformative government. The difference is that the Tories reinvented themselves thanks to Brexit, an issue which started to undermine Labour early on."
And finally we add Peter Franklin's analysis of the current plight of Her Majesty's Opposition:
"To face humiliation is one thing. To need humiliation — for your own good — is quite another. And what Labour needs from the voters today is a truly terrifying result. A threat of extinction, in fact. Losing Hartlepool would be an excellent start."