Top story: Labour insiders warn of ‘huge trouble’

Hello, I’m Warren Murray, and the last thing I would want to do is waste your time – so here is what matters most.

Fewer than half of recent Labour voters in Hartlepool say they will back the party in Thursday’s crucial byelection, according to internal data based on the canvassing of more than 10,000 people, leading activists to fear a historic Conservative victory. Voters across England, Scotland and Wales will go to the polls tomorrow on what has been dubbed “Super Thursday”, in the biggest set of local and devolved parliament elections since 1973. It is the first byelection since Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in December 2019, and is seen as a test of Labour’s appeal to its heartlands just over a year after Keir Starmer became leader with a pledge to rebuild the “red wall”.

The north-east England seat of Hartlepool has elected a Labour MP at every parliamentary election since 1964. Labour insiders said they were in “huge trouble” in Hartlepool with polling from its ground campaign showing only about 40% of previous supporters had pledged to vote for the party’s candidate, Paul Williams. Sources also feared losing control of Sunderland and Durham councils for the first time in half a century. Starmer has sought to manage expectations as he fights to rebuild the party just over a year since taking over the Labour leadership from Jeremy Corbyn. He told the BBC that “I hope we don’t lose” Hartlepool. “I take full responsibility for the results, just as a I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the Labour party under my leadership.”


Guardian turns 200 – Wednesday marks a very special moment in the history of the Guardian. It is exactly 200 years since a four-page weekly first appeared in Manchester. More than 54,000 editions – and several million articles – later, we’re proud to say we’re older than Germany, fish and chips, the FA Cup, the New York Times, the bicycle and the state of Texas. So for the next few days and weeks, we will be resurfacing the Guardian journalism that changed the world, celebrating the impact that we’ve had, and thanking our millions of readers and supporters without whom none of this would have been possible.

The first edition of the Guardian in 1821.

Newspapers were of course very different in 1821 – adverts on the front page, news on the back and plenty of tales about the supernatural to keep you guessing. To see just how different, have a look at our annotated version of the very first Manchester Guardian. Otherwise today we will publish a series of interconnected timelines that excavate Guardian history, an essay by editor-in-chief Katharine Viner that looks to the future and a whole spray of birthday messages from well wishers. You can find out more at our party page.


Midweek catch-up

> Derek Chauvin, the police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, has applied for a new trial. His lawyers claim there was prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law; and that the verdict was contrary to law.

> Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes in Helmand province as fierce fighting between government forces and the Taliban erupted after the US began withdrawing its last troops.

> The Student Loans Company is sitting on more than £18m in overpayments by nearly 60,000 graduates and other former students since 2015. The SLC has said it cannot make refunds without correct contact details. But the Higher Education Policy Institute says responsibility to avoid overpayment should not fall on graduates.

> Spain’s conservative People’s party has won a resounding victory but fallen just short of an absolute majority in a Madrid regional election. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the rival Podemos party, announced he was leaving the political stage for good.

> Young people concerned about the climate crisis and air pollution are urging the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to abandon plans for the four-lane Silvertown road tunnel under the Thames or risk losing Labour the backing of a generation of young voters.


Dalian Atkinson murder trial opens – A police officer murdered the former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson, first shooting him with a Taser stun gun for 33 seconds, then kicking him in the head as though striking a football, causing his head to snap back violently, a jury heard on Tuesday. PC Benjamin Monk denies murder and manslaughter following the incident on 15 August 2016 in Telford, Shropshire, which began at the home of Atkinson’s father. Monk is alleged to have also fired a Taser electrical weapon at Atkinson for nearly seven times longer than the standard five-second deployment.

Dalian Atkinson in 1992
Dalian Atkinson in 1992. Photograph: Allstar Picture Library/Alamy

Then, while Atkinson was on the ground and apparently unresponsive, the officer had kicked him in the head twice with such force that the imprint of Monk’s laces was left on Atkinson’s forehead, Birmingham crown court heard. Another officer, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, which she denies. She is alleged to have struck Atkinson with a baton while he was on the ground. The jury heard the officers were in a relationship. Atkinson achieved fame as a striker for Aston Villa football club in Birmingham. He retired from football in 2001. The trial continues.


Make net zero pledge, pensions told – Pension funds are being urged to set a target of net zero emissions for their investments. Prominent climate campaigners have written to the Guardian saying many investments are still high-carbon and calling on firms to sign a green pensions charter. The Co-operative Group, meanwhile, is cutting the price of its plant-based burgers and sausages to push back against the “unfair” price of vegan food as part of its plan to reach net zero emissions by 2040. And Ikea, the UK’s biggest furniture retailer, will launch a scheme to buy back unwanted furniture from customers to resell as part of efforts to reduce its impact on the environment.


Graves from Norman times to move – HS2 contractors are planning to disinter 3,000 bodies discovered in a churchyard in Buckinghamshire that lies in the path of the new high-speed rail link. The burial ground at Old St Mary’s church in Stoke Mandeville was in use for 900 years, with the last recorded interment in 1908. Around 3,000 burials are expected when the graveyard is fully excavated. St Mary’s was built shortly after the Norman conquest in AD1080. In 2017 an estimated 60,000 bodies were relocated from a former burial site at Euston station to make way for HS2.

Today in Focus podcast: Labour’s battle to hold Hartlepool

Hartlepool has sent a Labour MP to parliament in every election since 1964. But as old allegiances fray, Anushka Asthana looks back at how this previously thriving shipbuilding town has lost out over successive governments and wonders if the “red wall” seat could be about to go blue at tomorrow’s byelection.

Today in Focus

Labour’s battle to hold Hartlepool

Lunchtime read: Secrets of the Mary Rose crew

An archer raised in the Atlas mountains of north Africa; a carpenter who grew up in south-west Spain; others from the English west country or Thames estuary. The most in-depth study yet of the remains of men who went down with Henry VIII’s Mary Rose has provided fresh insight into the makeup of the crew.

Wreck of the Mary Rose at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth
Wreck of the Mary Rose at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

“We never expected this diversity to be so rich,” said Alexzandra Hildred from the Mary Rose Trust. The Mary Rose sank on 19 July 1545 during the Battle of the Solent with the loss of most of its 415 crew. In 1982 it was raised and the remains of at least 179 crew members found, together with thousands of objects ranging from weaponry to tools and games.

Sport

It was the classic sucker punch, a counter-attacking masterpiece and, when Phil Foden crossed and Riyad Mahrez scooped the finish high into the Paris Saint-Germain net, the only disappointment was that the stands at the Etihad Stadium were empty. At that point, Mahrez had two, PSG were broken, and for the first time in their history they were going to the Champions League final. Timing is everything. And the Indian Premier League, which was suspended for the season on Tuesday, comprehensively failed on this count. Manu Tuilagi will be in prime shape to face South Africa if he is selected on Thursday for this summer’s British & Irish Lions tour, according to his club Sale.

The former Australian Test cricketer Stuart MacGill was allegedly kidnapped and held against his will for an hour last month. New South Wales police said four men had been arrested following an investigation into the incident on Sydney’s lower north shore on 14 April. The world’s best golfers have been warned they will incur immediate suspension and most likely a career ban from the PGA Tour if they agree to join a breakaway regime being proposed by Saudi Arabia. The Wigan forward Tony Clubb has been suspended for eight games by the Rugby Football League after being found guilty of racially abusing Hull’s Andre Savelio, but an independent tribunal has stated that they believe the 33-year-old is not a racist. There is unprecedented visibility now in women’s cricket but the sport misses the female leaders pushed away when the ECB took over in 1998.

Business

Stock markets in Asia have endured a see-saw session overnight after US treasury secretary Janet Yellen hinted that US interest rates might need to be hiked in order to cool demand in the world’s biggest economy. Shares fell in the first part of the trading day in line with drops on Wall Street and in Europe. But they have recovered and the FTSE100 is on course to open up 0.7% this morning. The pound will buy you $1.391 and €1.157.

The papers

The Guardian print edition has a special wraparound for the 200th anniversary – overleaf, the news coverage begins with “Labour alarm as party data points to collapse in support”. And a post-Brexit row plumbs new depths: “France may cut power to Jersey in row over fish”. The i gets two steps ahead with “UK holiday list is out on Friday”. The Mirror reports on a “Miracle escape” in Kent as “Gas blast heroes rescue gran, 99”.

Front page of the Guardian 200th birthday souvenir wraparound
Front page of the Guardian 200th birthday souvenir wraparound.
Guardian front page, Wednesday 5 May 2021
Guardian front page, Wednesday 5 May 2021. Photograph: Guardian

“Tasered ‘for 33 seconds’” – the Metro front page covers the opening of the Dalian Atkinson murder trial. “‘Now stop Troubles veterans witch hunt’” – that’s the Telegraph paraphrasing “generals, politicians and campaigners” after murder proceedings collapsed. The Mail and the Express headlines are along similar lines: “Now end witch hunts for good” and “End the cruel hounding of all our veterans”.

The Times has that story on the front too but its lead is “Over-50s to be offered third jab before winter” – at the same time as their flu vaccine, it reports. The Sun pleads “Let us inn” lamenting on behalf of punters that despite a “double dose of good news on Covid … we’ll still have to sit in the cold outside pubs” until a further lockdown easing on 17 May. And the top story in the Financial Times: “Buying ‘frenzy’ drives mortgage lending to record high in March”.

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