It’s going to be a long old week for Keir Starmer. One which will be first spent trying to convince the country he hasn’t given up on winning the Hartlepool byelection and then, almost certainly, explaining why he never expected to hold on to the north-eastern constituency anyway.

The Labour leader’s day had got off to a bad start with a Survation opinion poll, commissioned by ITV’s Good Morning Britain, showing the Tories held a 17% lead over Labour in Hartlepool; a seat that had never gone to the Conservatives in its history. GMB’s Susanna Reid cut to the chase. “Why were things going so wrong?” she asked.

“I’ve been to Hartlepool three times now,” Starmer began. Though maybe he might have been better off visiting less frequently, as every time he showed his face Labour appeared to do worse in the polls. Starmer pressed on. It was jobs that were coming up with the voters he had met and only he was promising to improve job security.

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