Yesterday Scottish and Welsh citizens went to the polls to elect their national parliament members for the first time since Brexit and since Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP came into power. Throughout England many council elections took place, as well as a by-election for a Westminster seat in Hartlepool. A large quantity of different votes are taking place due to the coronavirus pandemic postponing elections in 2020.
Early Friday morning it was announced in the by-election constituency of Hartlepool that the seat had been won by Conservative Jill Mortimer who is now the Member of Parliament for the constituency, which has resulted in a massive blow for the Labour party. The labour party has held the seat since it was created in 1970, with their vote share fluctuating in recent years. This will bring Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer MP under scrutiny as this is his first election since succeeding former leader Jeremy Corbyn in April 2020. Starmer who is more right leaning than Corbyn has faced criticism and backlash throughout his leadership from colleagues and Labour voters. Starmer avoided questions this morning as he left his home.
Mortimer defeated the Labour candidate Dr Paul Williams by almost 7,000 votes in which is a stunning blow. She said in her victory speech that “Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted for too long.” Former Shadow Secretary Diane Abbot MP said that the result could not be blamed on Corbyn and that Starmer “must think again about his strategy”
Since this morning’s announcement, we are expecting Welsh Senedd results later today with counts starting in Scotland, but not being announced until later on Saturday.
The Welsh Labour party are hoping to maintain control of the Senedd after doing so since the creation of Senedd Cymru. Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party are looking to make gains. Plaid Cymru are vocal advocates for independence from the UK, being the second largest party after Welsh Labour.
The Scottish Parliament election is the most vital and watched election of all. In 2014, Scotland went to the polls to decide whether they were ready for independence in a referendum- they said no. The Scottish National Party, led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP are hoping to make a steady, but triumphant gain in the Scottish Parliament. They had sixty-one seats in the last parliament, but now they hope to garner sixty-five. Sixty-five is the magic number for Nicola Sturgeon as this will provide her with a majority in the parliament.
There is no doubt that Sturgeon will be once again, elected First Minister of Scotland, but hopes to have a government that may only depend on SNP votes to push her mandate for another independence referendum. Sturgeon said that she will wait until the ongoing health crisis has passed, and within half of the parliament’s term. If required, Sturgeon may be able to rely on the Scottish Greens who the SNP have an agreement with on the issue of independence. If Scotland does return an SNP majority this will mean huge ruptures in the UK.
British PM Boris Johnson has already voiced his opposition to another referendum saying “I think that most people in Scotland, most people around the whole of the UK, feel that this is not the time, as we’re coming forward out of a pandemic together, this is not the time to have a reckless, and I think irresponsible, second referendum.”