Former Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson blames Jeremy Corbyn and Covid-19 for crushing by-election defeat

Former Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson said the two reasons for Labour’s defeat in the town was down to Covid-19 and Jeremy Corbyn.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 1:46 pm
Lord Peter Mandelson. Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Conservative Jill Mortimer has broken Labour’s 57-year Parliamentary stranglehold on the town after triumphing by nearly 7,000 votes in the by-election.

Mrs Mortimer successfully overcame a 3,595 majority held by former Labour MP Mike Hill after his sudden resignation triggered the by-election.

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Jill Mortimer newly elected Hartlepool Conservative MP

Lord Mandelson, who was Hartlepool MP from 1992 to 2004, said he had been knocking doors in Hartlepool during the campaign and told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Actually, the reasons for the defeat... if I really had to boil them down to two things I would say they were two Cs - Covid and Corbyn.

"With a bit of Brexit, previous Brexit Party voters backing the man, Boris Johnson, who delivered them Brexit, and also promises of a large dollop of Tory Government money thrown in for good measure.

"All this as a whole turned out to be too heady a cocktail for Labour's campaign to take on."

Lord Mandelson said Brexit did not come up on the doorstep, but the Labour Party's former leader did.

He said: "Believe it or not, not on one door that I knocked did a single voter mention Brexit to me.

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"The one thing they did raise with me however is Jeremy Corbyn - he is still casting a very dark cloud over Labour. Labour voters are not letting this off lightly, he still gets them going on the doorstep.

"One person said to me 'Sort yourselves out, sort yourselves out. You picked the wrong brother and you ended up with Corbyn so that's goodbye to you. When you've sorted yourselves out, we'll look at you again'.

"That is what the Labour Party has got to do."

He also said he feels "fairly gutted" at the result in Hartlepool and also "a mild fury".

He added: "I feel fairly gutted by this result that will obviously certainly please Boris Johnson. I feel sad, disappointment above all, for the excellent campaign workers and party staff and volunteers and our excellent candidate, Paul Williams, who fought such a strong campaign."

He added: "I also feel, I have to say, a mild fury, that the last 10 years of what we have been doing in the Labour Party nationally and locally has brought us to this result, because that is above all fundamentally an explanation of what's happened today."

Lord Mandelson went on: "What I would say is this, and remind the party we have not won a general election in 16 years.

"We have lost the last four, with 2019 a catastrophe - the last 11 general elections read: lose, lose, lose, lose, Blair, Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose, lose.

"We need for once in this party to learn the lessons of those victories as well as those defeats, and I hope very much that when Keir and his colleagues in the shadow cabinet say this means that we have got to change direction that they actually mean it."

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