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Part superficial and part dead serious, what does the Hartlepool result mean for Labour now?

There is a whole jumble of explanations for this by-election defeat but one thing is clear: the last thing the party needs is another civil war

By Tom Clark  

Starmer leaves his home in North London this morning. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Hartlepool result is both more profound and more frivolous than it seems. As a pole-axed Labour Party sinks into yet another bout of sectarian bloodletting it risks missing both halves of this.

There is no arguing with the seismic arithmetic of the result. Against the baseline of the miserable win eked out amid Labour’s crushing national defeat in December 2019, the party lost getting on for half its total number of votes. The Tories, meanwhile, increased their absolute vote, mopping up virtually all of the large local vote share for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party to cruise home…

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