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Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire by-election results: Keir Starmer boasts that he is ‘making history’ and vows to emulate Tony Blair’s 1997 victory as he takes the glory in Mid Beds


Keir Starmer boasted that he is ‘making history’ and can emulate Tony Blair today as he took the glory in Mid Bedfordshire after a double by-election triumph.

The Labour leader posed alongside winning candidate Alistair Strathern at a rally in Bedford as he claimed voters had shown they want a ‘change’ in No10.

Labour gained Mid Beds, which was vacated this summer by former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, for the first time in the constituency’s century-long history.

It was the largest majority in terms of votes overturned by Labour at a by-election since 1945, with an eye-watering swing of more than 20 per cent.

Sir Keir’s candidate also routed the Tories in Brexit-backing Tamworth, smashing the 19,600-vote cushion from the 2019 general election.

The disastrous result has left Rishi Sunak scrambling to quell panic in his ranks, with calls growing for immediate tax cuts. 

Giving a stump speech and doing media interviews, Sir Keir insisted he is remaining ‘humble’ despite polling experts saying the results put him on track for a landslide. 

Sir Keir told Sky News: ‘Tony Blair won three times… we face different times….

‘What I do want to do is follow in the footsteps of a leader of our party who took us from opposition into power.’ 

Keir Starmer posed alongside new MP Alistair Strathern at a rally in Mid Beds as he claimed voters had shown they want a 'change' in No10

Keir Starmer posed alongside new MP Alistair Strathern at a rally in Mid Beds as he claimed voters had shown they want a ‘change’ in No10

Sir Keir was cheered by rapturous supporters as he did his lap of honour after the results

Sir Keir was cheered by rapturous supporters as he did his lap of honour after the results 

The Labour leader insisted he was staying 'humble' but wanted to emulate Tony Blair

The Labour leader insisted he was staying ‘humble’ but wanted to emulate Tony Blair

Praising his new MP Mr Strathern, Sir Keir said: ‘What a fantastic candidate… He has not only won here, he’s made history here over the past 24 hours. An incredible achievement already.’

Thanking Labour campaigners, he said: ‘Every vote that you persuaded to come across to us was worth it.

‘This is an incredible night in politics, an incredible morning, an incredible result here for so many reasons.

‘It is clear that the voters here have turned their back on a failed Tory Government. They’ve had enough of the decline of the last 13 years and they are crying out for change – positive change that the Labour Party can bring them.’

In its 105 years of existence, Labour had never won Mid Beds and were 24,664 votes behind the Tories at the 2019 general election.

Labour shadow cabinet minister Peter Kyle, who masterminded his party’s victory in Mid Bedfordshire, hailed a ‘political earthquake‘.

‘This is the biggest by-election shock in history, it is a political earthquake and it is one that is sending an unignorable message to Westminster and to Rishi Sunak that this country deserves better,’ he said.

Alistair Strathern took the constituency with a majority of 1,192 votes over his Tory rival Festus Akinbusoye – who dramatically walked out of the count without listening to his rival’s victory speech. 

Victory for Labour in Brexit-backing Tamworth saw the party overturn the Tories‘ 19,600-vote majority from the 2019 general election.

The swing from the Tories to Labour in the Staffordshire constituency was 23.9 percentage points, which is the second-largest managed by Labour at a by-election since 1945.

It was even bigger than the 23.7 percentage points that Labour achieved when winning the Selby and Ainsty by-election in July. 

Polling guru Sir John Curtice pointed out that the change was in line with Labour’s 1996 by-election victory in the forerunner seat.    

The Tamworth contest was triggered by the resignation of former Tory deputy chief whip Chris Pincher after he was found to have drunkenly groped two men in a posh London club.

Labour candidate Sarah Edwards defeated Tory rival Andrew Cooper by a majority of 1,316 votes. He also made a swift exit from the count without listening to her speech.

Tory chair Greg Hands said he was ‘disappointed’ but blamed ‘specific circumstances’ in the constituencies and said their voters had simply stayed at home. 

‘We need to think particularly about the fact that Conservative voters are not coming out to vote,’ he told Sky News

One veteran Tory told MailOnline: ‘Normally by elections are protest votes, this appears to be protest non votes.’ 

Mr Sunak will be left reeling after he attempted to revive Tory fortunes with a recent policy blitz.

The PM has made announcements on Net Zero, the HS2 rail line, an A-levels shake-up, and a New Zealand-style smoking ban.

He has also overhauled his Downing Street team, but has yet to see much improvement in the Conservatives’ opinion polling.

Labour's Sarah Edwards will replace Chris Pincher as the local MP in Tamworth

Labour’s Sarah Edwards will replace Chris Pincher as the local MP in Tamworth

Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns wrote on social media: ‘Voter apathy is evident yet again in both the #ByElections, low turnout -20k failed to turnout in Tamworth, 24k failed to turnout in Mid Beds since the last election.

‘We need to make far reaching major changes now to instil confidence in the Conservative voters.’

Professor Sir John Curtice said the two by-election results were ‘extremely bad news’ for the Conservatives and suggested Mr Sunak was on course for general election defeat.

‘This isn’t destiny, but it is a pointer and it is a pointer that, unless the Conservatives can fairly dramatically and fairly radically turn things around, then they are in truth staring defeat in the face in 12 months’ time,’ he said.

He warned the Tories ‘may get caught in a pincer movement between some of their former Leave voters wandering off to Labour but others going off to Reform UK’. 

Reform secured 1,487 votes in Mid Bedfordshire and 1,373 in Tamworth, in both instances more than Labour’s majority over the Conservatives. 



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