Labour must look forward says Hartlepool’s mayor

DEVASTATED: Mayor of Hartlepool Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher.
DEVASTATED: Mayor of Hartlepool Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher.

THE Labour Party needs to look at its future direction while not forgetting its working class roots, says a Hartlepool politician.

Hartlepool’s Labour Mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher has said that the Conservatives’ victory in the General Election represents a bad day.

I think a lot of Hartlepool people have realised that we have a lot to offer as a party, one that has an ambition and the vision to progress.

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, Mayor of Hartlepool

Despite the result, Coun Akers-Belcher has insisted that his party is the way forward in the coming years.

The Conservatives claimed an overall majority in Parliament, winning 331 seats, while Labour made significant losses particularly in Scotland.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I was devastated when I woke up to find that the Conservatives were heading for a majority, when you look at the track record of the previous government, it really is devastating.

“We have got to support the Labour Party and stay strong to make sure we survive all of these unfair cuts that the Tories will bring.”

Labour’s Ed Miliband resigned from his role as leader after the party’s poor showing nationally, and the news comes as no surprise to Coun Akers-Belcher.

He said: “Resigning is the usual practice after results like these.

“The new leader is a matter for the national party but they need to look at the direction the party is going in and not forget about the working class values the party was founded on.”

Miliband was not the only high profile casualty, as Ukip’s Nigel Farage and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg both resigned from their role as party leaders too.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It was expected as the Lib Dems have damaged their reputation, because of the last five years.”

Even though Labour lost out nationally, they kept hold of Hartlepool, with Iain Wright being re-elected to Parliament while the party claimed nine of the 11 seats that were contested in the local elections.

Coun Akers-Belcher believes the town and the region as a whole can provide a strong base for Labour in the coming years.

He said: “I think a lot of Hartlepool people have realised that we have a lot to offer as a party, one that has an ambition and the vision to progress.

“The people of Hartlepool woke up and realised it is not about negative visions and they have made their choice for a party that represents them.

“Labour is the way forward, we are not afraid of hard work and we will get the job done by getting out and about and delivering on our policies.”

The final result saw the Conservatives take 331 seats, with 232 for Labour, 56 for the SNP, eight for the Lib Dems and just one each for Ukip and the Greens.

Speaking on the steps of No 10, Mr Cameron said he would press ahead with the further Scottish devolution promised by the Westminster parties during independence referendum campaign “as fast as I can”.

“As we conduct this vital work we must ensure that we bring our country together. We will govern as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom,” he said.

“It means bringing together the different nations of our United Kingdom. I have always believed in governing with respect.

“In this parliament I will stay true to my word and implement as fast as I can the devolution that all parties agreed for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”