Not the war?

Iain Wright, Labour's candidate in the Hartlepool by-election, wants to make it clear that if his party performs badly, it will not be because of Iraq. "Iraq hasn't been mentioned a lot on the doorstep," said Mr Wright yesterday. "People are concerned about what they see when they leave their front door."

Local issues will be important when the people of Hartlepool vote today, but so will questions about Tony Blair's trust and judgement. If the Liberal Democrats make substantial inroads into Labour's majority in the constituency, Mr Wright and Labour will have to accept that Iraq is quite important after all.

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