Lord Peter Mandelson says voters are 'ready to return to Labour' as he joins Hartlepool by-election campaign trail
Former Hartlepool MP Lord Peter Mandelson returned to town to join Labour’s by-election candidate on the campaign trail.
Lord Mandelson, who was the town’s MP for 12 years between 1992 and 2004, has given his backing to Dr Paul Williams and says Labour is returning to its “true roots” in Hartlepool.
He said he is not taking anything for granted after recent polls suggest the Conservatives could win in town for the first time in more than 50 years.
And Lord Mandelson said the Labour’s stance on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn as leader cost the party votes in the 2019 general election.
But he believes voters are ready to return to the party.
He said: “My impression from talking to many voters in the town is that Brexit and Corbyn cost Labour a lot of votes in the general election.
"But with Brexit done and Corbyn gone townspeople are ready to return to Labour.
“In my view Paul Williams knows and cares about Hartlepool. He’s sincere and hard working and will fight for the town, and I believe Hartlepool needs a strong MP again who will commit to the town.”
Lord Mandelson spoke to residents along with Dr Williams on the streets, including in Hutton Avenue where he used to live.
Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer is currently the bookmakers’ favourite to win the by-election with odds of 4-9 compared to Labour in second place at 13-8.
Lord Mandelson added: “I know the Conservatives are confident that the seat will fall into their laps because they think that townspeople who voted for the Brexit Party in 2019 will go to them rather than to Labour, but that’s not what I’ve found on the doorstep.
"People know that Brexit is done and delivered and there are now other issues to focus on.”
He also said Labour in Hartlepool had undergone a number of changes and its council election candidates are actively involved in their communities.
"Labour is coming back stronger in the town now after the Corbyn years,” he said.
"Labour is coming back home to its roots and true values and I welcome that.”
Dr Williams said it was great to have Lord Mandelson’s support.