How would Labour MPs fare if the Sunderland City Council results were repeated in General Election

Labour’s electoral nightmares could get even worse if local election results from Sunderland were recreated in a General Election.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 6:52 pm
Sunderland MPs (from left) Julie Elliott, Bridget Phillipson and Sharon Hodgson.
Sunderland MPs (from left) Julie Elliott, Bridget Phillipson and Sharon Hodgson.

Wearside’s ruling party took a hammering in polls for Sunderland City Council yesterday (Thursday, May 6), while opposition Liberal Democrats and Conservatives scooped a number of high profile prizes.

And if voters went the same way again when choosing their MP, one of the three currently serving the city faces being ousted.

Across the nine wards which make up the Sunderland Central parliamentary constituency, Labour was pushed into second place with 31 per cent of the vote, leapfrogged by the Conservatives on 38 per cent.

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In 2019, incumbent Julie Elliott held her seat with more than two fifths of ballots cast.

She also faces a potential challenge from the Liberal Democrats, which gathered almost a quarter of all votes cast yesterday.

However, while the portents look grim for Labour in Sunderland Central, rays of light are visible in the city’s other two constituencies, where the party grew its vote share.

Houghton and Sunderland South’s Bridget Phillipson, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, won the smallest vote share of the city trio in 2019, with 40.7 per cent.

Yesterday, however, the share across the constituency’s eight wards had grown to 42 per cent, enough to keep the Tories at bay.

And it was a similar, if more successful, story in Washington and Sunderland West, where almost half of all votes cast were for Labour, up from 42 per cent two years ago.

Reflecting on results, council leader Graeme Miller said it showed Labour’s continuing ‘strong presence’ in Washington and the Coalfield.

However, even this would be unlikely to prove much defence should Sunderland experience a similar experience to Hartlepool’s showing in yesterday’s by-election, where a massive 16 per cent swing to the Conservatives swept away a previously rock solid Labour base.

Results also highlighted the collapse in UKIP’s support in the city, which in 2019 saw the eurosceptic party elect three councillors.

The absence of the Brexit Party, now rebranded as Reform UK, is also likely to have had an impact.