Wednesday 14 February 2024


Labour candidates are hoping to succeed outgoing Tory MPs Chris Skidmore (left)
and Peter Bone (right)

Labour cannot now win in Rochdale next week, but they are still odds on favourites to pick up two morale boosting gains from the Conservatives this week.  These imminent Westminster by-elections centre on two shire towns - Kingswood in Gloucestershire and Wellingborough in Northamptonshire.  Labour victories here would be short-lived as both constituencies will cease to exist at the next election thanks to boundary changes.  Kingswood is being abolished altogether and Wellingborough will be redrawn as Wellingborough and Rushden.

The Kingswood constituency will bow out in its fiftieth year, having spent 23 years with a Labour MP (1974-79, 1992-2010) and 27 years with a Tory (1979-1992, 2010-2024).  From 2010 the seat has been represented by Chris Skidmore, a net zero fanatic who wanted to make the ultimate protest statement by resigning before his seat was abolished.  His claim to fame is that he was the minister who signed the government's net zero pledge into law.  That was back in 2019 under the premiership of Theresa May and since then he has become increasingly focused on net zero and so-called 'climate change'.

Skidmore departs the Westminster gravy train with his rattle firmly thrown out of the pram in protest at Rishi Sunak's relaxation of key net zero targets - the PM's 'greatest mistake' according to Skidmore.  The electorate clearly disagree, as we now see Labour too rowing back on their own insane climate pledges.  Is there an election around the corner?

For Labour to win in Kingswood, they require a swing of 11.4 per cent to overturn the Tory majority of 11,220.  There are six candidates in total.

Kingswood Candidates

Sam Bromiley (Con)
Andrew Brown (LDem)
Damien Egan (Lab)
Lorraine Francis (Grn)
Rupert Lowe (RefUK)
Nicholas Wood (UKIP)

The Wellingborough vacancy came about by way of a successful recall petition against its Tory MP Peter Bone.  Since the Recall of MPs Act in 2015, this mechanism has been used five times across the UK, four of which have reached the minimum 10 per cent of signatures required to dismiss the MP in question.  Bone is the second Conservative to be kicked out this way, with 13.2 per cent of his constituents as signatories.

Bone's downfall came after repeated allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct were upheld by an independent body set up specifically to tackle complaints against MPs.  The male complainant contacted the body in 2021 after the issue had been raised with former PMs Cameron and May without success.  The panel recommended that Bone be suspended from the Commons, an outcome that was upheld after appeal.  The suspension triggered the recall process and Bone was stripped of the Tory whip, although he still denies the accusations.

Bone gained the Wellinborough seat from Labour in 2005 and built a solid majority from 2010 onwards, the largest of which was in 2019 and stood at 18,540.  The selection of Bone's lover Helen Harrison as the Tory candidate means that he could still potentially retain the seat by proxy.

At 17.9 per cent, Labour require a bigger swing to win here.  The ballot paper will be a crowded affair, with eleven candidates and a couple of intriguing names.

Wellingborough Candidates

Nick the Flying Brick (Loon)
Ana Gunn (LDem)
Ben Habib (RefUK)
Helen Harrison (Con)
Ankit Love Jknpp Jay Mala Post-Mortem (Ind)
Gen Kitchen (Lab)
Alex Merola (BritF)
Will Morris (Grn)
Andre Pyne-Bailey (Ind)
Marion Turner-Hawes (Ind)
Kev Watts (Ind)

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