Labour spent £897.60 on flyers marked with the English flag for the Hartlepool by-election, which it lost

Keir Starmer and Paul Williams wave as they walk down the street.
Sir Keir Starmer and Dr Paul Williams in Hartlepool.

  • Exclusive: Official spending returns show Labour spent £897.60 on flyers for St George’s Day.
  • The flyers cost it more than its more traditional push to encourage sign-ups for postal voting.
  • Labour lost the by-election, despite spending £8,000 more than the Conservatives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Labour Party spent nearly £900 on St George’s Day flyers emblazoned with the English flag as part of its unsuccessful campaign in the Hartlepool by-election, Insider can disclose.

The electoral spending return, signed by the party’s candidate Paul Williams, includes details on the expenditure in the constituency, which was previously held by Labour.

Jill Mortimer, a Conservative, went on to win the seat in a 16% swing from Labour. It was only the second time since the 1980s that an opposition party lost a seat to the governing party.

This tweet from Williams shows one of the leaflets. St George’s day was April 23, two weeks before polling day on May 6.

Despite losing the by-election, the Labour Party spent more than its rivals, declaring £95,139.05 out of a limit of £100,000. The Conservatives said they spent only £86,991.77.

The Conservatives’ largest expenditure was on £21,950.57 in direct mail to voters, followed by £21,600 on “research.”

The Labour Party’s expenditure on the St George’s Day leaflet is noted as being more than the £312 the party spent on an A5 leaflet for polling week; the £567 spent on “postal vote cards”; or the £46.50 spent on early vote sign-up cards. Other receipts for £1,060 from the same firm were for a quantity of 40,000 “pledge leaflets”.

The A5 flyers featured St George’s cross on one side and on the other wished voters “Happy St George’s Day from Dr Paul Williams and the Labour team.”

It encouraged recipients to “display this poster with pride in your window. Please enjoy St George’s Day in a Covid-secure way, helping us all defeat the virus together,” the Telegraph reported.

The flyers came months after a leak to the Guardian of an internal Labour party presentation, which said there needed to be stronger communication of “Labour’s respect and commitment for the country.”

It suggested that “the use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly at the war memorial etc give voters a sense of authentic values alignment”.

Previous attempts by the Labour Party to discuss St George’s Cross saw the resignation of a shadow cabinet minister, Emily Thornberry, over a photograph of a house with three English flags and a white van.

Another shadow cabinet minister suggested that the party must “wrap itself in the St George’s flag” following their defeat in the 2015 general election, the Independent reported.

A Labour spokesperson told the Telegraph in April: “Paul and the campaign team were proud to celebrate St George’s Day and enjoyed a sunny day having lots of positive conversations with voters.”

The Labour Party is currently in a poor financial state, according to comments made by the party’s general secretary, David Evans, reported by LabourList.

Its problems were said to stem from lower of income due to declining membership, and the cost of dealing with antisemitism cases.

Insider has contacted Labour for comment.

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