South Shields MP urges Labour supporters to leave in-fighting aside after a night of electoral losses in the North East

The MP for South Shields has urged Labour Party members and supporters to avoid further in-fighting after a night of electoral losses in local councils and in a North-East ‘heartland’ seat.

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 1:32 pm

The party suffered a series of defeats and saw majorities reduced in local elections across the region, which included losing four seats in South Tyneside and nine in Sunderland.

It also took a beating in the Hartlepool parliamentary constituency by-election, with the Tories having won by a margin of more than 7,000 votes – the first time Labour has failed to retain the heartland territory since the 1960s.

New pressure has settled on party leader, Keir Starmer, after the dismal evening for his formation in his first electoral ‘test’.

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Emma Lewell-Buck, the Labour MP for South Shields

The loss of Hartlepool – formerly the seat of Starmer’s new advisor, Peter Mandelson – deals a serious blow to the party’s hopes of winning back the northern constituencies lost to the Tories in the December 2019 general election.

In her initial reaction to the results, Emma Lewell-Buck spoke of the party’s warring factionalism – which has seen tensions rise sharply during Starmer’s first year in charge of Labour and which she said had gone into ‘overdrive’ by the time the results had come in on the morning of Friday, May 7.

"Woke up dismayed to see already the tearing ourselves apart has gone into full overdrive,” the South Shields MP tweeted.

Just months away from the first party conference since Starmer took over the reins, Labour will over the summer seek to shore up its national polling position and reverse a sharp fall in membership numbers.

Ms Lewell-Buck thanked candidates and volunteers for their work during the campaign weeks and urged party supporters to leave in-fighting aside in the immediate aftermath of the results.

She said: "The only thing anyone in our movement should be saying right now about any of our losses is thank you to those who put themselves forward to serve, thank you to all of our amazing volunteers and staffers.

“Please try to appreciate how utterly gutting it can be for everyone involved to lose after giving your all. Let’s try and leave the inevitable tearing ourselves apart for at least a few hours, better still let’s miss it out this time.”

The Gazette contacted Ms Lewell-Buck for further comment.

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