Labour running scared in Hartlepool! Starmer mocked after Owen Jones interview blocked

Labour: Baroness Chakrabarti discusses Hartlepool candidate

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Following the resignation of Hartlepool’s Labour MP, Mike Hill last year, the town will head to the polls on May 6 to vote on a replacement. Labour has been dominant in the area for six decades but the Tories look set to secure a shock victory.

But despite other candidates canvassing ahead of the election, Labour have refused to allow Paul Williams to be interviewed by Guardian columnist – and Labour supporter – Owen Jones.

Mr Jones is visiting Hartlepool and said he was “keen to chat to local Labour party activists”.

However, he later revealed the Opposition party had refused an interview with Dr Williams.

Mr Jones tweeted: “Labour have refused permission to interview Paul Williams, their candidate in Hartlepool.”

One user said: “If they are refusing a Labour supporter the right to interview, they must think he is a pretty poor candidate.”

Another said: “Labour running scared of the Labour Party!”

A third said: “Are you surprised?

“I wouldn’t be.”

While someone else mocked: “How very Conservative of them.”

Sir Keir was in Hartlepool last week to support Dr Williams as part of Labour’s by-election campaign.

The decision was panned on social media.

The pair said they were “fighting for every vote” in Hartlepool in a bid to win back Labour voters’ trust.

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Sir Keir said: “Everybody here in Hartlepool is talking about jobs, jobs, jobs and what we are getting from the government is sleaze, sleaze, sleaze.

“There is a deep sense that there is one rule for them and one rule for everybody else.”

Last week, the Labour candidate faced accusations of being a “hospital hypocrite” after it emerged he was a commissioner of a report which supported the removal of critical care services.

Co-chair of the Conservative Party, Amanda Milling, said Dr Williams “could not be trusted to deliver on NHS priorities for the people of Hartlepool”.

She said: “Despite everything he has said during this campaign, Dr Williams is a hospital hypocrite.

“He was responsible for a report that recommended moving services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool – and they were.

“These were services best delivered locally and which local people desperately wanted to stay in their local hospital.

“He then has the nerve to bring Labour frontbenchers up to Hartlepool complaining about a lack of hip replacements, when he was responsible for stopping them in the first place.”

Dr Williams defended the report and claimed it was the “Tories trying to blame local doctors”.

He said: “The cuts that they made – in 2013 the Tories had just cut the NHS budget year after year and it was an impossible position.

“And of course they’re continuing to cut nurse’s pay.

“We’ve got record waiting lists in the NHS.”

Labour is defending a narrow 3,595-vote majority in the town it has held since former Prime Minister Harold Wilson nearly 60 years ago.

But recent polls suggest the Conservatives are leading the by-election race.

In the 2019 general election, Hartlepool’s neighbouring constituencies turned their allegiance to the Conservatives.

This formed the bedrock of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 80-majority in the House of Commons.

It is believed Hartlepool would have also turned blue if the Brexit Party had not won 25 percent of the votes – two-thirds of which are believed to have been traditional Labour supporters.

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