The Green party is showing Labour how to connect with its former heartlands | Lynsey Hanley

Rather than campaigning on the climate crisis, the party has won people’s support by focusing on their local environments

In the week before the Hartlepool byelection, a still loyal Labour voter gave a bleak assessment of her hometown to a reporter from the Financial Times. “We are at the arse-end of the world, just a sprawling housing estate. We don’t really make anything any more.”

The floppy union jack hanging outside Labour’s Hartlepool HQ at the insistence of Keir Starmer’s London-based team turned out to confirm, rather than refute, that verdict. In the absence of making things, Labour tried to make meaning through the display of empty symbols and lost, catastrophically. But there’s another way to create something meaningful: by building relationships. This is where, away from the byelection media frenzy, the Green party excelled in some of last week’s other elections for local councils in England.

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