Labour are so desperate to get their by-election campaign underway in Hartlepool that they dispensed with normal selection procedures and appointed a candidate before any other party. Dr Paul Williams was the short-lived Labour MP for nearby Stockton South between 2017 and 2019. Having been kicked out by voters there, Keir Starmer appears to be pinning his hopes on resurrecting Williams' Parliamentary career on the back of the fact his candidate is a practicing GP. Yes, Starmer is going to make this by-election all about the NHS. Yawn.
However, what Starmer has failed to grasp is that the people of the north are not that fickle and they're less likely to connect with this candidate for two key reasons. Firstly, Hartlepool is Brexit country. The constituency returned a 69.6 per cent Leave vote in 2016, one of the strongest Leave votes in the entire country. One of the reasons Williams was rejected by Stockton voters was the fact he is a staunch unapologetic Remainer. Another reason was the fact he is no Durham lad, that's the second reason. He is another woke southerner who is more interested in migrants' rights than Brits on the breadline.
So, is working class Leave-voting Hartlepool going to elect this smug Kent-born Cambridgeshire-educated Remainer?
|Dr Paul Williams|
Williams has already run into trouble just days into his controversial appointment. The Independent revealed on Saturday that while an MP he went on a trip to Saudi Arabia paid for by the Saudi regime, after which he described the country as 'modern' and 'progressive' - a country where apostasy and homosexuality is punishable by death, a sentence that is carried out in public either by way of the sword or the barbaric practice of stoning. Progressive eh, Paul?
However, what has really got the left riled about Williams is a tweet he wrote way back in 2011. Williams wrote: "Do you have a favourite Tory MILF?" In the current climate of media-driven feminist hysteria his use of the term 'MILF' has been whipped up to the extent that Shami Chakrabarti has demanded that he be dropped as a candidate. Such a term was 'obscene' and 'misogynistic' she declared. Keir Starmer agreed that it was 'inappropriate', but he is standing by his man.
The left are furious about the way in which Williams was imposed on Hartlepool with no proper selection process. If they can't get Williams replaced with one of their own, a defeat for Labour in Hartlepool will be used to call for Starmer's head. A leadership challenge is likely if they can build up enough pressure, but who would stand? McDonnell appears to be the only plausible option, although it would be comedy gold to see someone like Richard Burgon or Zarah Sultana get the nod!