Good morning. There are now less than 48 hours to go until polling opens for “Super Thursday”, a bumper day of elections in which every adult in Britain will get the chance to vote for either the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Senedd, city or metro mayors, councils (the local elections combine this year’s and last year’s, which were cancelled because of coronavirus), the London assembly, police and crime commissioners – or a new MP in Hartlepool.
Political parties will perform better in some of these elections than in others, but attention is likely to focus overall on Scotland, and on whether Labour is making any sort of comeback under Sir Keir Starmer, and in relation to the second question, the result in Hartlepool will be crucial. It will also be the only major result available on Friday morning (most of the counting is on Friday and Saturday), which means it will frame the narrative going into the weekend.
And this morning a poll suggests the Conservatives are on course for a historic win. Governing parties very rarely gain seats in byelection, but a Survation poll suggests the Tories have a 17-point lead in the seat that has always been Labour since it was created in its current form in 1974.
Starmer has been giving interviews this morning, and he has been downplaying expectations. This is what he told the Today programme.
Well, I hope we won’t lose Hartlepool, we’re fighting for every vote there and I know that every vote has to be earned and that’s why I’ve been in Hartlepool three times in the campaign and we’ve got teams on the ground.
My job as Labour leader was to rebuild the Labour party out of that devastating loss in 2019 and put us in a position to win the next general election.
I said on the day that I was elected that that was a mountain to climb. It is, we’re climbing it and I’ve got a burning desire to build a better future for our country, and Thursday is a first step towards that better future.
But I don’t think anybody realistically thought that it was possible to turn the Labour party round from the worst general election result since 1935 to a position to win the next general election within the period of one year; it was always going to take longer than that.
I will post more from his interviews, and from the Survation poll, shortly.
There is not much in the diary today because parliament is in recess, and the government is in purdah mode ahead of the elections. Here are the items on the agenda.
9.30am: The ONS publishes reports on coronavirus infections in school, on Covid and older workers and on compliance with self-isolation.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.
Also, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, is hosting a meeting of G7 foreign ministers at Lancaster House.
Politics Live has often been wholly or largely focused on Covid this year, but this week I expect to be concentrating mostly on the elections. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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