FROM bleak economic warnings and a cost-of-living crisis to a Prime Minister fined for breaking the law and a Tory MP caught watching porn, it is hard to imagine the Conservatives in a worse place heading into a national vote.

Indeed, in parts of the country, they were hammered. London and their former strongholds in the South were not kind.

But it wasn’t as bad in the North East. With fewer elections, the sample size in our region was smaller, but there were Tory gains in Hartlepool, and the Conservative vote held up across the Tyne and Wear.

Yet despite this, they stumbled over the line in North Yorkshire - another traditional stronghold - securing the thinnest of majorities in the new single council.

What does this tell us? Well the traditional Conservative voters, who were never huge fans of Mr Johnson, are ready for a change.

But those ‘red wall’ voters in 2019 who gave him an historic win are not quite ready to turn against him yet.

And there lies the problem for Sir Keir Starmer.

He will be pleased with progress in the capital, but Labour still has some way to go to be the party of the North again.

Cllr Jonathan Brash, deputy leader of Hartlepool Labour Party, said as much today.

"We recognise we have a significant job to do to win back the trust of people to prove that we can deliver for the people of Hartlepool and the wider North East.

"Last night was just the first step in that long process."

Whether that process will be complete in time for the next general election remains to be seen.