Labour leader Keir Starmer became a figure of ridicule this morning as he was subjected to an avalanche of memes urging him to stand down after party stronghold Hartlepool was won by the Tories.
As #StarmerOut began to gain traction on Twitter the 58-year-old was likened to a clown and suggested to be so weak he could be defeated by a feather.
Another teasing image mocked him up as Rick Moranis’s bumbling character in film Honey I Shrunk The Kids, this time titled ‘Honey I shrunk the Labour Party’.
And he was even photoshopped so he replaced Boris Johnson in the humiliating picture of him waving flags stuck on a zipline.
A more niche ribbing featured the The League of Gentlemen’s Creme Brulee member Les McQueen looking deflated caption as if it was Sir Keir visiting Hartlepool.
It came hours after Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle took to Twitter on Thursday night to question his party’s attempts to change its image.
Starmer was mocked up to look ridiculous in many of the memes slating the Labour leader
This meme put his head on a picture of Boris Johnson looking absurd stuck on a zipline
Another meme showed former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laughing and drinking alcohol
One meme about Starmer showed a scene from the League of Gentlemen TV show
One picture posted online showed praise for Jeremy Corbyn spoiling a ballot paper
He said: ‘Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well… or not?’
The comment seemed to be a reference to a leaked strategy document which suggested Labour must make ‘use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly’ to win back voters in red wall seats in the party’s former industrial heartlands.
Labour’s new strategy was based on extensive focus groups conducted in places from Watford to Grimsby last September alongside UK polls. It was suggested displays of patriotism are needed to reinforce the idea the party has changed and to win back losses in the 2019 election.
Mr Russel-Moyle became the first Labour MP to publicly question Sir Keir and his strategy.
One meme of Sir Keir showed him in the Houses of Parliament made up to look like a clown
This image on Twitter made him look like he was too weak to beat a feather in the boxing ring
Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle has publicly mocked his party’s election strategy
Labour are facing a disastrous Super Thursday in a blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s bid to rebuild after the losses the party suffered in 2019
The result in Hartlepool
Jill Mortimer, Conservative
15,529 (51.88 per cent of total vote, up 22.96 per cent on 2019)
Paul Williams, Labour
8,589 (28.69 per cent, down 8.99 per cent)
Sam Lee, Independent
2,904 (9.70 per cent)
Claire Martin, Heritage
468 (1.56 per cent)
John Prescott, Reform
368 (1.23 per cent)
Rachel Featherstone, Green
358 (1.20 per cent)
Andrew Hagon, Lib Dem
349 (1.17 per cent, down 2.97 per cent)
The Brighton MP was an ally of previous leader Jeremy Corbyn before joining the shadow frontbench under Sir Keir.
He stepped down as the shadow minister for air quality and the natural environment last July.
His resignation came weeks after he apologised to author JK Rowling for writing an article where he accused her of ‘using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating’ against trans people.
In 2018, he hit headlines after he was suspended from the Commons for picking up the ceremonial mace in protest at a Brexit vote being deferred.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle reacted furiously after the Government whip formally postponed the vote – because then-PM Theresa May was facing a humiliating defeat.
The mace is the symbol of the authority of the House and during sittings is placed on the table next to the despatch box in front of the Speaker.
In 2019, Russell-Moyle joined thirteen other Labour MPs on Westminster Bridge, next to the Houses of Parliament, in a protest against Brexit under the banner ‘Love Socialism Hate Brexit’.
Hartlepool is expected to be the first major result announced after a raft of elections across the UK, with Boris Johnson hopeful of snatching the seat from Labour which has held the constituency since its inception in the 1970s.
Counting is now underway in the Hartlepool by-election as the Tories try to win the seat from Labour
The Labour Party has held Hartlepool since the constituency’s inception back in the 1970s
The Tories were increasingly confident of victory in Hartlepool – and saw it as a result which would steady Mr Johnson’s premiership after a tumultuous few weeks littered with various rows.
The defeat for Sir Keir piled the pressure on his leadership and reignite questions over whether he can reverse Labour’s fortunes ahead of the 2024 general election.
Labour sources were downbeat about the party’s chances in council elections in England as they said they expected some ‘grim’ results this morning.
Early declarations in some council seats in the north east of England suggested Labour was struggling.
Sir Keir was said to be preparing a brutal reshuffle of his shadow cabinet within days, with shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth tipped for demotion.
He was sounding out high-profile figures, including former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper, about a possible return to the Labour frontbench.
Frontbenchers regarded as strong media performers such as shadow schools minister Wes Streeting are being tipped for promotion.
Sir Keir has said he will ‘carry the can’ if the local election results go badly, but he is expected to try to revitalise his top team amid concerns many of them have been under-performing.
Another being lined up for the sack is thought to be shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz, with a reshuffle pencilled in for the next week.
In a sign that Sir Keir was expecting a difficult set of results, a Labour source said: ‘These were always going to be tough elections for Labour. Keir has always been honest about the mountain we must climb to rebuild trust to win the next general election.’