Hartlepool Lib Dems select Andy Hagon for by-election

Andy Hagon will stand for the Liberal Democrats in the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election.

Andy, a teacher who stood in the seat in 2017 and 2019, said that he was honoured to be standing for Hartlepool again:

He said:

I’m honoured to be standing in Hartlepool again. I’m married with two children, a teacher and passionate about helping young people. I’m also a Hartlepool homeowner and Council Tax payer like you, and want the very best for our town.

I grew up on the Owton Manor estate, and even though times were often hard, I always felt positive about the future – I had a loving family and some great teachers supporting me.

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44 Comments

  • Good luck

  • It’ll be interesting to see how much progress the party has made in the last seventeen years since we nearly won the seat in a byelection back in July 2004 (with 34.5%)…….. not long before the publication of a certain Orange Book.

  • Brad Barrows 4th Apr '21 - 12:45pm

    @David Raw
    I think we all know that the story of the last 17 years has been one of the Liberal Democrats advancing to the point of being able to choose between joining the Conservatives or joining an anti-Conservative alliance, choosing the former, and being punished for that choice ever since.

  • Good luck to Andy Hagon.

    Peter Mandelson’s former seat is known for throwing up some election surprises with their Mayor dressed as the mascot of Hartlepool FC.
    One interesting entry is the Northern Independence Party https://www.freethenorth.co.uk/
    who are campaigning for a referendum on the independence of the North, to be decided by the people of the North. One problem though. I believe the party leader lives in Brighton. They have, however, found a former West Yorkshire Labour MP, Thelma Walker, ex-MP for Colne Valley, to stand for them in this election.
    Somebody seems to think they are worth a bet. Oddschecker is showing Labour at 5/6 on; Conservatives Even and the Northern Independence party at 30/1. Ahead of Reform UK at 130/1 and LibDems at 500/1!

  • Suzanne Fletcher 5th Apr '21 - 9:32am

    @Martin the Labour candidate is strongly anti Brexit, very clear about this in 2019 GE.

  • Peter Martin 5th Apr '21 - 12:08pm

    There doesn’t seem to be much discussion here and, more worryingly, on Labourlist on how to actually win support in Hartlepool.

    The perception in the Red Wall seats is that Labour doesn’t represent the people they used to. It’s all about race, sexual orientation and gender now. Not that these issues are unimportant but the class issue is important too and just as much as it ever was.

    Add to that there is a strong element of blame in that many traditional working class Labour voters firstly voted for Brexit and then deserted the party in 2019. The comment “If only they hadn’t be so stupid” may not be said openly but that’s what is being said in private.

    So my prediction: A Tory win. Caused by Labour abstentions on a lowish turn out.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Apr '21 - 12:36pm

    Brad Barrows: We weren’t able to choose, not really. Labour + LIb Dem + Nats + Greens didn’t make a majority. Aside from a Grand Coalition, Conservative + Lib Dem was the only stable combination available after the 2010 GE.

  • Alex Macfie couldn’t put it more simply and rightly so. Even if the rest of the world couldn’t care less, Lib Dems ought to be able to distinguish between the decision to opt for coalition and what we did or did not do with it subsequently.

  • @ Alex Macfie “We weren’t able to choose, not really”.

    Well actually there was plenty of choosing going on, Alex, though maybe you don’t remember it or you weren’t around at the time.

    Richard Reeves was Nick Clegg’s ‘Director of Strategy’. Back in 2008 he wrote an article for The Guardian (19 September – conference time) which called for social liberals (the great bulk of the party who had rebuilt it up until that point, some, like my late friend Tony, for over sixty years) to leave the party and join Labour.

    It’s odd how so many folk with that sort of views took the party over, created the mess it got itself into, and then popped over the pond to more welcoming and financially more comfortable climes : Dr Reeves to the Brookings Institute in Washington (originally funded by Rockefeller and Henry Ford to oppose Roosevelt’s social liberal policies) – and the other one to Facebook.

    You make a choice and get an outcome.

  • He’s certainly got his work cut out. First poll (survation) I’ve seen for Hartlepool has the Lib Dems on 1%. Tories on 49% and Labour on 42%.

  • Peter Watson 6th Apr '21 - 7:51am

    @David Raw “It’ll be interesting to see how much progress the party has made in the last seventeen years since we nearly won the seat in a byelection back in July 2004”
    It will be interesting to see how much progress the party has made in the last seventeen months since it nearly retained its deposit! 😉
    Unfortunately, the latest polling (based on fieldwork before a candidate was announced) suggests a performance at the level of 2015 & 2017, though a by-election does give the party the opportunity to focus its campaigning and make itself appear relevant again in a seat like this.

  • Geoffrey Dron 6th Apr '21 - 8:06am

    “Boris Johnson is on course for a decisive victory over Labour in the Hartlepool by-election, according to a new poll that raises more questions about Sir Keir Starmer’s electoral strategy.

    The first poll in what had been an impregnable Labour stronghold, which elects a new MP a month from today, suggests that the Conservatives have already opened up a seven-point lead over the opposition and are set to win with nearly half of the vote.” [The Times 6.4.21]

    The same article shows LibDems on 1%. Some sort of deal with Labour will be needed before next GE.

  • Paul Barker 6th Apr '21 - 10:50am

    In the General Election The Tories + REFUK as they are now known got 55% between them in Hartlepool, with the end of Brexit as an issue a Conservative Victory was pretty inevitable, certainly thats what the Betting markets expected.
    Hartlepool is a two horse race, clearly everyone else will be squeezed.

    If the Tories do win in Hartlepool while collapsing in London we can expect a raft of articles & podcast talking about the reversal of the traditional North/South divide in Politics. Like most such articles they will contain a very small truth & a lot of hot air.

    The Big Truth in Politics is Covid, we dont know when or if “Normal Politics” will resume but we can be fairly sure that trying to predict 2024 on the basis of whats happening now is a pointless exercise.

  • Peter Martin 6th Apr '21 - 11:17am

    “If the Tories do win in Hartlepool while collapsing in London we can expect a raft of articles & podcast talking about the reversal of the traditional North/South divide in Politics”

    Some bookies are still offering close to evens on the Tories but their odds are rapidly shortening as we see the opinion polls showing a sizable Tory lead.

    The loss of Labour support isn’t particularly about Geographic location. There are plenty of ex Labour voters in the South too. There are probably more new Labour voters there among the young, to offset the loss of traditional voters, which is why we can win in Canterbury but lose badly in Stoke. It is quite common to hear them say that they haven’t moved away from the Party but rather the Party has moved away from them. At the last election this sentiment was put down to the Corbyn factor.

    I wasn’t convinced about that. He did remarkably well in the 2017 election considering the right wing of the party was actively trying to undermine the campaign. They tried even harder to undermine his leadership in the two years afterwards. No doubt the loss of Hartlepool will be put down to the Covid factor, and Starmer will be given another chance, but there is much more to it than this.

    For Labour to have any chance of defeating the Tories they need to adopt policies that will win votes in Stoke, Hartlepool and Canterbury. Just one, or even two, out of three is going to be nowhere near good enough.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Apr '21 - 12:05pm

    A constituency poll for Richmond Park taken just after Zac Goldsmith did his vanity flounce, sorry principled resignation showed him on some 55% of the vote. We know what actually happened. Things change a lot during by-election campaigns, so I’d take that Hartlepool poll with more than a pinch of salt.
    Not that I think Lib Dems have any chance winning Hartlepool, but we’ll certainly get more than 1%. I’ll be happy with saving our deposit. And we’ll be taking votes mainly from the Tories — the sort of soft Tory voters who will consider voting Lib Dem but never Labour. Our presence in the campaign will help Labour not the Tories.

  • Joseph Bourke 6th Apr '21 - 12:05pm

    Paul Barker comments “The Big Truth in Politics is Covid, we dont know when or if “Normal Politics” will resume but we can be fairly sure that trying to predict 2024 on the basis of whats happening now is a pointless exercise.” But what is post-austerity “Normal Politics” now?
    The big events in the past several year have been the Financial Crash of 2008, the rise of ISIS and domestic terrorism, Brexit and Covid.
    There is a thread that is a constant here, that if only the LibDems had not entered coalition or done things differently in government, we would be riding high now with 100+Mps and in coalition with Labour. The problem with this counter-factual is that there is no evidence to support it. It was the Tories that picked off the bulk of LibDem seats in 2015, not Ed Milliband. It was UKIP that primarily drew votes from the Tories in 2017 and whittled down their majority; and it was the Tories who took seats from Labour in the North not Libdems or UKIP.
    David Raw refers to Nick Clegg’s former adviser, Richard Reeves. In this article in 2012 https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2012/09/case-truly-liberal-party he puts the case for a a truly liberal party. Regardless of what you think of Reeves, these fundamental issues have yet to be addressed. Until they are the party has little hope of recovery. Reeves writes “The population is increasingly socially liberal and anti-ideological. There remains a Blair-shaped hole in British politics”. Jo Grimond was the sole dissenting voice among the cabinet from the 1970s Lib-Lab Pact, just as Charles Kennedy was the sole vote against going into coalition. Reeves ends his piece quoting Jo Grimond, “there is no point keeping a liberal party alive unless it promotes liberalism”. His words ring just as true today. A Liberal party promoting real liberalism? The opposition to Vaccine passports is a good start. We need to go a lot further if we are going to reestablish the momentum towards building the third party of government that Grimond and Kennedy aspired to.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Apr '21 - 12:35pm

    David Raw: As Geoff Reid points out, the decision to go into coalition and the choices that were made once in coalition are separate things. The error wasn’t going into coalition with the Tories, as this was the only viable option at the time; it was how the party conducted coalition. And as you point out, the people responsible for those choices have mostly left active UK politics, so we can now rebuild without them.

  • John Marriott 6th Apr '21 - 12:39pm

    I’m afraid that politics as it used to be defined (manifestos with policies etc) appears to belong to the history books. We now get single issues (‘Get Brexit done’) welded into a landscape in which, it would appear, the majority of the electorate thinks most politicians are innit for what they can get out of it and, if they are not, then they must be slightly weird, like ‘Liberals’, perhaps. The Tories sussed out ‘Bread and Circuses’ years ago. That’s why they keep reinventing themselves. ‘Conservative’ – it says exactly what it does on the tin! Mr Reeves was right about ‘the population’. It might like some ‘ologies’ but ‘ideology’ is clearly no longer one of them, if it ever really was.

    Now all this might sound cynical to all you idealists. However, I base my conclusions on recent events : the failed attempt in 2010 to make coalition the sine qua non for government, the pathetic attempt in 2011 to seek approval for a modest change in the voting system, the complacency between 2015 and 2016 which allowed Brexit to triumph, the inability of the opposition parties to get their act together in the Autumn of 2019 to make the best of a bad job and their culpability in allowing themselves to be suckered into an unnecessary General Election.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Welcome to the post political age”. Oh, and sorry, Mr Hagon, that deposit might indeed be in danger of being lost!

  • Alex Macfie 6th Apr '21 - 12:40pm

    IMHO had Charles Kennedy still been leader in 2010 we’d have done better and might have been a genuine kingmaker. Then it’s likely we’d have formed a coalition with Labour, as was CK’s preference. The party was coasting in opinion polls and local election results under Clegg’s leadership before the 2010 election. Cleggmania only saved the party from a serious pasting.

  • @ Alex Macfie 1. “If Charles Kennedy had still been Leader..” I’m afraid by 2010, the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber would not have been well enough to cope with the role of Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition.

    2. “the people responsible for those choices have mostly left active UK politics, so we can now rebuild without them”…. Not quite, Alex. A very prominent one regularly voted straight down the line for all the Coalition austerity and welfare cuts. ‘They work for You’ reveals’ Sir Edward’s record :

    a) Carer’s Allowance : 24,457 fewer carers were entitled to Carer’s Allowance with implementation of the Personal Independence Payment. £175.63m cut
    b) Bedroom Tax : At least 40,000 carers had rent support cut by over £700 a year because of the Housing Benefit ‘spare room’ changes. £150.70m cut
    c) Benefit Cap : At least 2,946 carers had their incomes capped, losing an average of £105 a week. £72.4m cut
    d) Inflation Switch : Devaluing of Carer’s Allowance by 2018 switch from Retail Prices Index to Consumer Prices Index. £421.91m cut.
    e) Real-Terms Cut To Help For Poorest : 350,000 worst-off carers hit by the means-tested benefits freeze. £76.94m cut
    F) Council Tax Support : Over 240,000 carers faced additional Council Tax charges following scrapping of Council Tax Benefit. £170.34m cut

    Total Cuts To Carers’ Financial Support by 2018 : £1 billion which somewhat restricted the ‘Freedom’ of the poorest people in this country.

    More pragmatically, Sir Edward’s name and powers of communication aren’t a buzzword for change in Hartlepool or even enough to inspire folk to join a ‘crusade’ for ‘Freedom’. It’s a town where, ‘The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) in 2015 gave Hartlepool an income deprivation level of 23.9%, the 2nd highest rate in the north east and the 11th in England’.

    @ John Marriott, Sadly, I Agree.

    3. Joe Bourke Why vote pale blue when you can vote for the real thing ? That’s what
    happened in 1924.

  • suzanne fletcher 6th Apr '21 - 3:31pm

    probably nobody is following by now, but as someone who has spent more time in elections in Hartlepool than anyone else not living there i would say that national politics are not high on the agenda, nor are nuances.
    the Hartlepool Mail is probably the biggest influencer. I don’t think anyone should take the resulting vote too seriously there are too many internal factors.
    Our candidate Andy Hagon is a good solid Lib Dem with real values.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Apr ’21 – 12:36pm………………Brad Barrows: We weren’t able to choose, not really. Labour + LIb Dem + Nats + Greens didn’t make a majority. Aside from a Grand Coalition, Conservative + Lib Dem was the only stable combination available after the 2010 GE………………

    A ‘stable combination’ that lost this party the popular support that had taken years to achieve.. Thankfully, most within this party accept that 2010-15 was a disaster and that any future coperation with the Tories will not benefit this party..

    As for Labour; currently they are between a ‘rock and a hard place’.. To give Starmer his due he has pre-empted Johnson at every turn (PPE, testing, lockdown, airport arrivals) but, when eventually Johnson ‘does the right thing’, opposing what you’ve been demanding for weeks isn’t an option..

    Like during WW2, the PM’s position seems unassailable but, again like WW2, when the current emergency ends the country may well take a look at a post Covid future (with Brexit) and decide that a new broom is needed..

    I don’t know what sort of ‘broom’ Starmer would wield but, unless this party becomes far more radical and active, then the 1945 experience (loss of half it’s MPs, including its leader) may well be repeated.

  • Thanks for posting that Suzanne. Andy Hagon sounds like a good solid candidate.
    It is interesting that you say national politics are not high on the agenda,. The Hartlepool Mail carries a report on the survation poll with the headline – Conservatives on course to take Hartlepool from Labour according to new by-election poll https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/politics/conservatives-on-course-to-take-hartlepool-from-labour-according-to-new-by-election-poll-3190512 Survation commented “At this stage in the contest, it would appear a significant proportion of 2019 Brexit Party voters have moved to the Conservatives, have yet to make up their minds or will choose not to vote. How this develops will have a significant effect on the final outcome.”
    You write ” I don’t think anyone should take the resulting vote too seriously there are too many internal factors.” But, if the Conservatives win – I am pretty sure the government will hold it up as validation of their strategy for the North even if no one else does.

  • David Evans 6th Apr '21 - 5:22pm

    David Raw, as you say, “I’m afraid by 2010, the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber would not have been well enough to cope with the role of Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition.” But let’s be honest, he wasn’t an imbecile and certainly wouldn’t have been so arrogant and immature as to refuse to listen to other Lib Dems for five long years while letting the Conservatives destroy our party.

  • suzanne fletcher 6th Apr '21 - 5:39pm

    I’m not up to date with how H Mail operates, as I used to be, but you are right – a win for the conservatives will be trumpeted as a victory for all sorts of things and not necessarily of relevance to H.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Apr '21 - 5:40pm

    expats: I’m sure Johnson would be flattered by your comparing him to Churchill, although in reality the only Churchill that our present PM can be compared to is the insurance dog. But seriously, WW2 isn’t a good parallel for our current state for a lot of reasons. We’re not actually in a state of War, and there is no Government of National Unity (Attlee was not Leader of the Opposition during WW2, he was DPM; the Liberal leader also had a seat in the War Cabinet). Mid-term elections (including the one that’s nominally the topic of this thread) are fully contested affairs. And history rarely repeats itself as neatly as you seem to imagine. Ed is pretty safe here in Kingston & Surbiton; the seats north of St Albans (including Archie Sinclair’s former seat) are more vulnerable and would be the ones to go if we did have a disastrous 2024 result.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Apr '21 - 6:00pm

    David Raw: Who said the Lib Dem leader would necessarily be DPM (a largely meaningless title) in any Coalition? The PM need not have a Deputy at all; correct me if I’m wrong but there has been no formally designated Deputy Prime Minister in the UK since Nick Clegg left the role, although there have been several “de facto” Deputy Prime Ministers. It might have been better if the Lib Dems had full control of some government departments, so that all Lib Dems in the Cabinet would have clear portfolios run entirely by Lib Dems. And it need not include the Leader (Kirsty Williams is in the outgoing Welsh government and isn’t Welsh Lib Dem leader).

    “Why vote pale blue when you can vote for the real thing ? That’s what happened in 1924.”
    And also in 2015: voters who liked the Coalition mainly voted Tory because that seemed to imply its continuation. But the Tory Party of Johnson is not that of Cameron; with the Tories having firmly embraced nationalism and right-wing populism, there is no danger of Lib Dems ever sounding like Tories now.

    As for voting records: that’s a broken record. Time to move on.

  • David Evans 6th Apr '21 - 8:30pm

    David Raw, as you say, “I’m afraid by 2010, the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber would not have been well enough to cope with the role of Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition.” But let’s be honest, he wasn’t so silly as to believe that the Tories were on his side and certainly wouldn’t have been so certain of his own abilities as to surround himself with lightweights and refuse to listen to other Lib Dems for five long years while letting the Conservatives destroy our party.

  • Donations can be sent via HQ.The Harlepool bye -election can showcase social care and UBI for the Liberal Democrats.

  • I should add a green recovery

  • Alex Macfie 7th Apr '21 - 12:53pm

    Looks like the poll giving us 1% in Hartlepool isn’t very representative
    https://twitter.com/PME_Politics/status/1379397732209721344

  • Hartlepool is not worth wasting money on. That should go to Chesham and Amersham, which will be a do or die by election for us. Looks as if it will be held in late May or June.

  • A lot of looking back here, doesn’t seem to healthy but whether the party had supported CK better or not, he wouldn’t have been able to govern with Labour because Gordon Brown was caught being rude about some voters and literally blew his majority away. The idea that a rainbow of all the rest could be stable and not collapse within months causing a likely massive tory majority is just that, an idea. The biggest error to date was giving Johnson his election and letting him persuade voters it was people v Parliament (in which his party had been governing for 10 years, not that anyone seems to notice). I do think the only hope for the LDs in the sort to medium term now is to accommodate where it can with Labour in England to try to erode the Tory majority. Maybe Wales too, but not in Scotland where the rump LDs really are just light blue Tories.

    Sorry state of affairs!

  • Alex Macfie 8th Apr '21 - 9:57am

    Johnmc: Your post-2010 counterfactual analysis assumes that CK would have faced the same Parliamentary arithmetic as Nick Clegg did in reality, whereas I think the Lib Dems would have been stronger against the Tories, making a coalition with Labour more viable.
    And incidentally there is no constitutional law that states that the leader of the largest party in government has to be the PM. If Gordon Brown was considered the reason Labour lost, but a coalition involving his party was nonetheless viable, it could just as easily have been headed by someone else. Similarly the main reason Johnson got his election was Jeremy Corbyn’s pig-headed refusal to step aside for someone less divisive to head a putative Government of National Unity. As for the idea that the Lib Dems are “pale blue Tories” anywhere, have you seen the Tories lately? There is no way we are a pale version of their populist English nationalism.

    theakes is right that Lib Dems have much more hope in Chesham & Amersham when it happens (indeed it’s essential that we win it). I don’t know anything about timing, but I wouldn’t put it past the Tories to call the by-election before the late MP is buried. It would give us no choice but to start the campaign in earnest during mourning for Ms Gillan, distateful as that may be.

  • Rightmove notes properties in Amersham had an overall average price of £615,070 over the last year. The majority of sales in Amersham during the last year were detached properties, selling for an average price of £858,698. Flats sold for an average of £369,008, with semi-detached properties fetching £611,318.
    This Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/10/landlord-power-homeowners-tenants-buy-to-let-property-labour quotes architectural historian and activist Owen Hatherley, “If only under-30s [voted], there would be no Conservative MPs anywhere in Britain.” But, if only the over-70s voted, “there would be Tory MPs in every constituency apart from south Wales, Merseyside, the city of Manchester and inner London”. The story of British electoral politics over the past decade has been defined by the seeming replacement of class by age as the best indicator of how people vote.
    The article concludes “Politicians need to be brave enough to explain to voters that the hoarding of properties by commercial landlords doesn’t just hurt young renters but many homeowners too. A Labour party that forges a cross-generational alliance on this basis could reap serious rewards.”

  • @ Joe Bourke And, the average price of properties in Hartlepool is £ 139,230……. so why is the Lib Dem party more popular in Amersham if it is a radical party, and why shouldn’t waste its money in Hartlepool if it was more interested in inequalities ?

  • And of course the next question is – will a flat rate universal basic income buy as much in Amersham as it will in Hartlepool ?

  • David Raw,

    although nurses and teachers are paid the same national rates, average wages in Amersham are higher than in Hartlepool. In both places, rents are determined by the income of the area and housing finance costs.
    As the linked Guardian notes “From the perspective of “generation rent”, high house prices have meant the disappearance of the prospect of ever buying their own home, and a reliance on renting in the private sector, which takes up a far higher proportion of their incomes than their parents ever had to pay.”
    I don’t advocate a universal basic income. I advocate a guaranteed minimum income based on integrating the tax and benefit system and making income tax more progressive. That tax reform, however. does not deal with the problem of rents as Jock Coats points out in this blog https://jock-coats.medium.com/nobi-progressives-and-liberals-should-be-eliminating-not-subsidising-poverty-6868f01aed92.
    “A “Universal Basic Income”, funded by taking more from the productive economy, will simply transfer more money from workers (and to an extent capital investors) to land “owners”, and, to some extent, will enable capital owners to pay labour less.”
    This is why, Land reform needs to be part and parcel of the LibDen program. Reform of the 1961 Land compensation Act, a commercial landowner levy and a proportional property tax to replace council tax.

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