Aleksis Butler, account executive for DevComms’ Eastern region, weighs up what the Mid Bedfordshire by-election win for Labour could mean.
October saw a political upheaval for the governing Conservative Party with the loss of two, previously safe, Conservative seats.
Labour took control of Tamworth, more traditionally a bell-weather seat, but caused a significant shock in Mid-Bedfordshire, overturning a majority of 24,664, a post-war record.
The constituency itself is a large rural one which consists of towns such as Ampthill, Flitwick and Shefford.
The election was won by Alistair Strathern of the Labour Party, who received 13,872 votes (34 per cent), with his Conservative counterpart, Festus Akinbusoye, getting 12,680 votes (31 per cent).
The result makes this the first Labour victory in the seat since its creation in 1918.
Conservative spokespeople have blamed the low turnout (44 per cent), although this is to be expected in a by-election. They have gone further to suggest that the results were due to discontent towards the party, rather than enthusiasm for the Labour Party.
However, the reality is that this was a seismic result for Labour, securing a swing of more 20 per cent. Furthermore, the victories in Mid-Bedfordshire and Tamworth means that Labour has successfully gained five seats in the last three years due to by-elections, with four since July with swings of more than 20 per cent. Sir Keir Starmer went on to say that the results are a ‘game changer’ as further evidence that Labour could go on to make strides within the ‘Blue Wall’.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper stated that Labour’s victory was due to the ‘crucial role’ the Liberal Democrats played in taking votes away from the Conservatives.
The Mid-Bedfordshire election was highly fractious between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with each party publicly criticising the other over their campaigning tactics.
Repeated calls for a progressive alliance between Labour and the Liberal Democrats seem further away than ever following this by-election.
Can the Conservative Party do enough to convince voters to stick with them ahead of the next General Election? Is the current polling correct, that we will see our first Labour Government since Gordon Brown’s tenure?
Will the Liberal Democrats hinder Labour success or aid them in Conservative losses?
With another potential by-election on the way in Peter Bone’s Wellingborough’s constituency, the Labour Party is already targeting a sixth by-election gain.
© Eastern Echo (powered by ukpropertyforums.com).
Sign up to receive our weekly free journal, The Forum here.