LABOUR figures say they are 'confident but not complacent' about taking seats in Northumberland at the next general election.

The party currently has just one MP in the county in Wansbeck’s Ian Lavery following a poor performance at the 2019 election. However, the latest polls suggest that when voters next go to the polls, the picture could be very different.

The election model constructed by Britain Elects and the New Statesman suggests that Labour could win all of the county’s seats – although it doesn’t take into account the boundary changes that will be in place at the next election.

Speaking during a visit to Hexham on Thursday (May 16), Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Peter Kyle gave his thoughts on the party’s chances.

He said: “People right across Northumberland have been crying out for change. We’ve had 14 years of chaos and instability with the Conservatives.

“I’m never overconfident. What I am is hopeful, and I have belief in the Labour Party.

“The belief comes from the fact that we are connecting to communities up and down the country – very often communities that have never turned to Labour before. We have seen that in the local elections and it goes back to 2015, when I took my own seat off a Conservative in an election where Labour lost.

“Keir Starmer’s changed Labour Party is connecting with communities right across the country. We have that momentum behind us.”

Mr Kyle was in the North East to launch Labour’s six 'first steps for change' as part of a national effort following a speech by Mr Starmer on Thursday morning. The Hove MP was joined by newly elected Labour mayor for the North East, Kim McGuinness, as well as Hexham parliamentary candidate Joe Morris.

Labour has never held the Hexham seat in its entire history since it was created in 1885. It has been held by the Conservatives for 100 years – generally with safe majorities.

Ms McGuinness, however, was confident of seeing a Labour MP both in Hexham and in the county’s other seats.

She said: “What we demonstrated only two weeks ago is that we are winning here. Members of the Labour Party have been out on the doorstep having those conversations with residents of the Hexham constituency who have been telling them they want change.

“Now we’re heading into a general election off the back of really good regional election success. We want to get our first Labour MP in Hexham.

“I think Labour can win right across the region. What we have proved is that we really do care about the villages and towns as well as the cities – as North East mayor that has been really key to my pitch as a candidate and I know Joe Morris is very focused on serving the whole constituency.

“The old constituency of Blyth, now Cramlington and Killingworth, is somewhere we would like to see return another Labour MP when we get to that general election.”

Mr Morris, who was born in the constituency and attended school in Hexham, is looking to unseat the long-serving Guy Opperman, who was first elected in 2010. The current Roads Minister has already stated he will stand again at the next election.

Speaking about his chances, Mr Morris said: “We’re confident – we’re not complacent.
“The only poll that matters is the general election. We’re out working every single day speaking to people who feel that it is time for change.

“I go out speaking to people, whether it’s farmers or people in shops or working in the NHS or any other business – they’ve seen the scale of broken promises and 14 years of missed opportunities.”

Speaking upon his re-selection to contest the seat last June, Mr Opperman said he was ”delighted” to be the Tory candidate for Hexham. He added: “We have a strong track record of local action, from delivering over £98 million to rebuild or fully refurbish every high school across Tynedale and Ponteland, to defending our precious greenbelt, and reducing unemployment across Tynedale by 41 per cent since 2010.

“I look forward to delivering for people in Longhorsley, Ponteland North and Callerton and Throckley and campaigning on their priorities.”