Press release: North East Mayoral race results in

Strong showing for independent Jamie Driscoll in North East a sign of Labour losing key support in its heartlands, campaigners say

  • Independent Driscoll came in a strong second place, behind Labour’s Kim McGuinness 
  • Figures show thousands of young people were reached by grassroots campaign 
  • Campaigners say result is a warning to Labour not to take young voters for granted 

The strong showing for Independent Jamie Driscoll is a sign that Labour is losing a large base in its heartlands, according to campaigners on the ground. Youth campaigners Green New Deal Rising, who campaigned for Driscoll, say the result should worry Keir Starmer ahead of a General Election, and that it is a sure sign that the party is losing the support of young people.  

The activist group, who mobilised hundreds of young people in the Labour heartland region to campaign for Driscoll, say that Driscoll’s messaging on climate change, Gaza and the cost of living crisis resonated with many who felt betrayed by the Labour party after Keir Starmer’s u-turns on key policies. 

Jamie Driscoll, who stood as an independent after being barred from standing as Labour’s candidate, came second to Labour’s Kim McGuinness, taking just over 28% of the vote.

Green New Deal Rising threw their backing behind Driscoll earlier this year, announcing their plans to campaign for him as part of a broader electoral strategy to elect Green New Deal champions and kick out politicians who have failed to take action on the climate crisis. 

Over the course of their campaign for Driscoll, 120 young people volunteering for GNDR in the area knocked on 12,000 doors across the North East, handed out 40,000 leaflets, made 4,500 calls through phonebanking, and reached half a million young people using targeted online ads. 

Those involved in the campaign on the ground say that young people in the region were enthusiastic about Driscoll’s campaign when they learned of his policies for home insulation, rent controls, free transport for students, and good jobs for all. People who had previously supported the Labour party but no longer felt represented by the party after u-turns on key climate pledges, and the party’s failure to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza, instead turned to Driscoll. 

Lou Millington, a campaigner with Green New Deal Rising in the North East, said: 

“What we saw during the campaign was a real groundswell of support for Jamie coming from students and young people – particularly those who have felt betrayed and let down by the Labour party. 

“Over the last year, all young people have seen from the Labour party is u-turning, flip-flopping and spinelessness. So the young people we spoke to were really refreshed to see a politician taking a genuine stand on the issues that matter to them, and offering concrete solutions. 

“While this wasn’t the result we hoped for, we’re really proud of what we achieved in this election. We’ve reached thousands of young people, mobilised a movement of committed volunteers, and sent a message to the major political parties that our votes can’t be taken for granted any longer.” 

Fatima Ibrahim, Co-director of Green New Deal Rising, said: 

“Labour may have won this election, but Keir Starmer should take this close challenge in Labour’s heartlands as a warning: ignore young voters at your peril. Over the past year, Starmer has ditched the party’s flagship £28 billion green investment pledge, leaving him with no plan for growth, and has alienated voters across the country by initially failing to condemn Israel’s atrocities in Gaza. 

“We should see this result for what it is – a huge turnout for an independent candidate in a country that is choked by a two party system. But given Labour’s failures it's no surprise that in the North East, young, progressive voters have flocked to Jamie Driscoll – and came close to electing him. Here is a politician who is principled, listens to what ordinary people want, and has genuine answers to the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency. 

“We’re incredibly proud to have backed Jamie, mobilising hundreds of volunteers in our campaign and turning out thousands of young people. Although we didn’t quite get over the line this time, we’ve shown the power of our movement, and we’ll build on this result as we move towards a general election – where we’ve got a plan to elect champions across the country and kick out politicians who are standing in the way of real progress.”