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May 7, 2021 38 min

As the dust settles after the Hartlepool by-election, Jack Blanchard looks back at some of the great by-election contests of recent years — and ponders whether these quintessentially British political battles are always as significant as they seem.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney recalls her famous Brexit-fuelled victory over Conservative Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park in 2016, while Labour campaign chief Andrew Gwynne reveals how he masterminded a difficult win when pundits were predicting a drubbing for then party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a Labour heartland seat. Tory MP Edward Timpson and Labour MP Steve McCabe remember the epic "class war" battle in Crewe & Nantwich in 2008, a by-election which confirmed the Tories were finally on the path back to power. Lib Dem historian Duncan Brack explains his party's reputation as by-election specialists, while veteran political journalist Steve Richards recalls his favorite moments from the campaign trail — including the time SDP founder Roy Jenkins pointed out that his coat was on fire.

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