Labour wins seats from Conservatives in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire, overcoming large majorities.

Tories suffer "political earthquake" in double by-election defeats.

October 20th 2023.

Labour wins seats from Conservatives in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire, overcoming large majorities.
The Labour Party celebrated a historic double victory in the Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire by-elections yesterday. Labour overturned huge Tory majorities to gain both seats, with a swing of 20.5 percentage points in Mid Bedfordshire and 1,316 votes in Tamworth. Labour's Sarah Edwards and Alistair Strathern were declared the victors, to the delight of Sir Keir Starmer.

In a victory speech, Sir Keir said: "These are phenomenal results that show Labour is back in the service of working people and redrawing the political map. Winning in these Tory strongholds shows that people overwhelmingly want change and they’re ready to put their faith in our changed Labour Party to deliver it."

Ms. Edwards had a challenge for the Prime Minister: "My message to the Prime Minister is get in your government car, drive to Buckingham Palace, do the decent thing and call a general election." Shadow cabinet member Peter Kyle echoed her enthusiasm, calling the results an "unignorable message to Westminster and to Rishi Sunak that this country deserves better."

Both contests were triggered by the high-profile departures of their previous MPs. Former cabinet minister Nadine Dorries quit as Mid Bedfordshire's MP after being denied a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list. In Tamworth, Chris Pincher resigned after being found to have drunkenly groped two men in an ‘egregious case of sexual misconduct’.

The Conservatives sought to portray the by-elections as mid-term blips, but elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice suggested Mr Sunak was on course for general election defeat. He warned the Tories risked seeing votes drift to Labour on the left and Reform UK on the right. Reform secured 1,487 votes in Mid Bedfordshire and 1,373 in Tamworth, in both instances more than Labour’s majority over the Conservatives.

Tory former cabinet minister Sir Robert Buckland said Mr Sunak’s party now needed to focus on the issues that mattered most to voters. He said: "I’m looking for serious, grown-up approaches to the issues that really matter – on the economy, on housing, on the future for our young people. We’ve got some good Conservative answers to these issues. Let’s hear them and let’s hear nothing else in the next 12 months."

The results mark a year since Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister and leave Mr Sunak with a difficult task as he ends his first 12 months in post. The Tamworth result echoes Labour’s victory in a by-election in its predecessor constituency South East Staffordshire in 1996, a result Sir Keir would dearly like to repeat. With the Labour Party now back in action, only time will tell what is in store for the Conservative Party.

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