Labour have taken two safe Tory Westminster seats in a devastating night for Rishi Sunak. The Conservatives were defending majorities of 24,664 in Mid Bedfordshire and 19,634 in Tamworth. The swing to Labour in Nadine Dorries' old seat was 20.5 per cent, while in Tamworth it was 23.9 per cent. Both constituencies will now be Labour marginals going into the general election, with majorities of 1,192 and 1,316. Turnout was 44.1 per cent in Mid Beds and 35.9 per cent in Tamworth.
While it is fair to say that both by-elections were brought about by acrimonious circumstances caused by two MPs clinging to the gravy train for as long as possible, this can barely dampen a huge turnaround by Keir Starmer's candidates.
The long drawn out departure of Nadine Dorries would have frustrated many of her constituents, with claims that she was neglecting them while continuing to take home her Westminster salary. Dorries had previously announced her 'immediate resignation' back in June, but subsequently changed her mind in a protracted attempt to receive a peerage pledged to her by Boris Johnson. As pressure grew on Dorries to make good her resignation, 'missing' posters were put up across her constituency. She eventually resigned at the end of August, but as the Commons was in summer recess the by-election was delayed still further.
The new MP for Mid Bedfordshire is Alistair Strathern, a university graduate and ex-teacher. He was serving as a Labour councillor on Waltham Forest Council until last month, when he resigned ahead of a move back to his native Bedfordshire. It is not clear if this was linked to his candidacy, seeing as his chances of victory were obviously slim.
In Tamworth the resignation of Chris Pincher was also a long time coming. Allegations of sexual misconduct first emerged way back in June 2022 and would become the straw that broke Boris Johnson's back. Pincher had been appointed deputy chief whip, despite prior knowledge of the alleged misdemeanors. The revelation that Johnson had appointed him anyway led to the PM's downfall.
While Pincher resigned his whips' post in June 2022, following a 'drunken incident' in which he is alleged to have sexually assaulted two men, his resignation as Tamworth MP did not transpire for another 15 months and only came about when it was clear he would face a recall petition. Pincher had been the MP since 2010.
Tamworth's new MP is Sarah Edwards, an art school graduate and Unite union official from Birmingham. She defeated local councillor Andrew Cooper, an army veteran who was raised on a council estate.
Labour's double by-election gains follow on from their crushing defeat of the SNP in Rutherglen earlier this month. There is little to suggest that the general election will go anything but Labour's way. Mid Bedfordshire had been held by Conservative candidates since 1931.
Mid Bedfordshire Parliamentary By-Election
Alistair Strathern (Lab) 13,872 (34.1%) +12.4%
Festus Akinbusoye (Con) 12,680 (31.1%) -28.6%
Emma Holland-Lindsay (LDem) 9,420 (23.1%) +10.5%
Gareth Mackey (Ind) 1,865 (4.6%) New
Dave Holland (RefUK) 1,487 (3.7%) New
Cade Sibley (Grn) 732 (1.8%) -2.0%
Ann Kelly (Loon) 249 (0.6%) -0.2%
Antonio Vitiello (EngDem) 107 (0.3%) New
Sid Cordle (CPA) 101 (0.2%) New
Alan Victor (True) 93 (0.2%) New
Alberto Thomas (Herit) 63 (0.2%) New
Prince Ankit Love, Emperor of India (Ind) 27 (0.1%) New
Chris Rooney (Mstr) 24 (0.1%) New
Lab GAIN from Con
Tamworth Parliamentary By-Election
Sarah Edwards (Lab) 11,719 (45.7%) +22.0%
Andrew Cooper (Con) 10,403 (40.6%) -25.7%
Ian Cooper (RefUK) 1,373 (5.4%) New
Ashlea Simon (BritF) 580 (2.3%) New
Robert Bilcliff (UKIP) 436 (1.7%) -0.1%
Sue Howarth (Grn) 417 (1.6%) -0.4%
Sunny Virk (LDem) 417 (1.6%) -3.7%
Howling Laud Hope (Loon) 155 (0.6%) New
Peter Longman (Ind) 86 (0.3%) New
Lab GAIN from Con
The Tories did not fair any better in Thursday's council by-elections. They lost all three seats they were defending - two to the Greens and one to the Lib Dems. Again, these were huge swings away from the Conservatives.
Alveley & Claverley, Shropshire Council
LDem: 662 (58.8%) +36.6%
Con: 408 (36.3%) -33.1%
Lab: 55 (4.9%) New
LDem GAIN from Con
Horsleys, Surrey County Council
RGV: 1,095 (39.3%) -8.5%
LDem:: 1,023 (36.7%) +25.2%
Con: 569 (20.4%) -17.0%
Lab: 99 (3.6%) +0.3%
Warndon Parish, Worcestershire County Council
Grn: 1,139 (44.2%) +28.7%
Con: 623 (24.2%) -36.9%
LDem: 579 (22.5%) +16.3%
Lab: 239 (9.2%) -7.5%
Grn GAIN from Con
Warndon Parish South, Worcester City Council
Grn: 733 (53.7%) +36.2%
Con: 340 (24.9%) -28.4%
Lab: 171 (12.5%) -11.1%
LDem: 92 (6.7%) +1.2%
RefUK: 29 (2.1%) New
Grn GAIN from Con
Lab = Labour
Con = Conservative
LDem = Liberal Democrats
RefUK = Reform UK
Grn = Green
Loon = Monster Raving Loony
EngDem = English Democrats
CPA = Christian People's Alliance
True = True & Fair
Herit = Heritage
Mstr = Mainstream
BritF = Britain First
UKIP = United Kingdom Independence Party
RGV = Residents for Guildford & Villages
Ind = Independents