Sir Keir Starmer is facing an onslaught from both sides of Labour over its devastating by-election defeat in Hartlepool, as the Left mocked his "flag-waving and suit-wearing" and moderates demanded he talk more about aspiration. Heavy criticism was heaped on leader on Friday morning after the party lost Hartlepool to the Conservatives for the first time since the seat's creation in 1974. Disappointment over the 16 per cent swing to the Tories in the constituency was compounded by a series of council seats flipping from red to blue across Labour's former heartlands in the Midlands and the North. Early results in the local election contests revealed that the Conservatives have seized Redditch, plus Nuneaton and Bedworth, both councils in the Midlands, along with Harlow, in Essex, and Northumberland. Left-wing MPs ridiculed Sir Keir over his bid to project a patriotic attitude and his smart personal appearance, tools he has used to differentiate himself from Jeremy Corbyn, whose trademark shabbiness and perceived ambivalence towards Britain was seen as off-putting to voters. As the defeat in the County Durham seat was confirmed, the Corbynite Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted: "Good to see valueless flag-waving and suit-wearing working so well... or not?"