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25 February 2017, 12:40 | Elizabeth Houston
Celebrations as Gareth Nuttall wins the Stoke-on Trent by-election The Stoke-on Trent Central by-election day by day
It was the first time the ruling party had won a seat off the opposition in a by-election since 1982 - and on that occasion the vote was split by the arrival of the Social Democratic Party.
Political commentator Kevin Maguire said two words sum up Labour's humiliation "Jeremy" and "Corbyn".
"What we've seen from this victory is this truly is a government that's working for everyone and every part of the country - and that's the message that we bring here to Copeland and we'll take across the country".
Copeland is near a nuclear submarine construction site, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been an outspoken opponent of such nuclear programs.
There was relief for Labour as the party saw off a challenge from Ukip leader Paul Nuttall in Stoke-on-Trent Central, although its vote share slipped in the previously safe seat.
The seat is highly representative of its core membership but at one point UKIP's Paul Nuttall was the favourite to win over Labour - that is huge. Nobody can claim losing Copeland was Jeremy Corbyn's "fault": "the fault lies with the careerist right-winger who abandoned the seat in mid-session to take a better job".
Tory activists hope to carry the momentum from the Copeland success into May's local elections which including county council elections in North Yorkshire and the first metro-mayor elections in areas including Greater Manchester and Tees Valley. Prepare to be told that this defeat is not Jeremy Corbyn's fault, but behind the spin, Corbyn's misjudgements are the cause of Labour's woes.
The Conservatives made history by smashing Labour in its heartland by winning the Copeland seat as well as increasing its share of the votes.
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Ukip were confident that Hunt's majority of 5,000 at the 2015 general election was vulnerable given Stoke's vote to leave the European Union and Labour's recent struggles.
"So we're saying to those people... unite because people will then see the real Labour party campaigning and we'll win back places like Copeland", he said.
The elections were called because Stoke's Labour member of Parliament since 2010 resigned to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Copeland's Labour MP for 12 years quit to head community relations at a nuclear decommissioning site.
But the Labour leader remained defiant and rebuffed demands to consider his position as a shadow Cabinet member joined MPs and union chiefs in warnings over the scale of the electoral crisis facing Labour.
That prompted Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to boast: "We've turned back the tide, and I think we've defeated quite a unsafe form of politics". What is striking about their criticism is not the strategic disloyalty, paucity of political alternatives, or the fact that in both seats the previous incumbents - having presided over sharp declines in Labour's polling - left their constituents for the noble pursuit of personal enrichment.
That has happened several times since, but in unusual circumstances which are perhaps not "comparable" to Copeland.
"There's a lot more to come from us", he said. I wish her well in that.
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