Video report by Kris Jepson
Labour will need to win back the support of constituencies like Hartlepool in the old 'Red Wall', if they are to claim victory at the next general election, but business owners and workers on the town's high street are still undecided over who they will vote for.
During his speech at the Labour conference Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of losing control of the economy after the Chancellor's mini-budget led to the pound dropping to its lowest ever point against the dollar.
He said: "They’ve crashed the pound and for what? Higher interest rates, higher inflation, higher borrowing, and for what?
"Not for you. Not for working people. For tax cuts for the richest one per cent in our society. Don’t forget. Don’t forgive. The only way to stop this is with a Labour government."
Watching his speech in The Dancing Cup cafe, chef Pamela Flynn, a life-long Labour voter, told ITV News Tyne Tees, she really feels like this is the moment for the party to step up and lead the country.
She said: "I think he’s (Starmer) got some good prospects of being a good leader, because he’s more for the people.
"He’s more to help the working class people who have literally been on their knees over the last two to three years due to the Covid outbreak, the cost of living crisis.
"At the moment we need somebody who is going to be on our side, you know, not just for the one per cent."
One business owner who voted for the Tories at the 2021 by-election said he cannot forgive Labour for the lack of growth in the town over decades.
Geoffrey Carr, of Bensons shoe repair shop, said: "The country has been declining as far as I can see in Hartlepool for the last 30 years.
"There’s no disposable income around. Whether tax cuts will work or not, I don’t know, but I feel like we have to give it a go, because you can see around the town all the shops closing."
When asked if he would consider backing Sir Keir Starmer at the next election, he responded: "No, I don’t particularly like the man to be honest. I think he’s a lot of bluster, because he doesn’t come out with any policies at the moment."
Traditionally a Liberal Democrat supporter, Debbie Conway, who owns the wool shop Kraft Work Yarns, said she is resigned to the fact her party do not have a chance of getting into government and therefore feels there are few options for her going forward.
She said: "I could not in all honesty vote Conservative at this moment in time. I simply don’t believe them. I don’t trust them. I don’t think they have a clue of anything north of Watford, I really don’t.
"Labour does seem more down to earth, down to who we are and where we are. They’ve got a figurehead who actually I’m prepared to listen to. I’m prepared to give the benefit of the doubt. If he can help me, then he gets my vote."
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