By election live: Labour takes momentous wins in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire - full results
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Labour has taken a momentous win in the Tamworth by-election and won Mid Bedfordshire for the first time since its existence.
In Staffordshire, Sarah Edwards wiped out a majority of more than 19,000 to win a seat Labour hasn't held since 2010. There was a by-election after Chris Pincher resigned after he was banned from the House of Commons for eight-weeks for drunkenly groping two men. Alistair Strathern overturned Nadine Dorries' huge majority in Mid Bedfordshire, in an astounding result.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “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. Voters across Mid Bedfordshire, Tamworth and Britain want a Labour government determined to deliver for working people, with a proper plan to rebuild our country.
“To those who have given us their trust, and those considering doing so, Labour will spend every day acting in your interests and focused on your priorities. Labour will give Britain its future back.”
Follow the latest news, analysis and gossip from NationalWorld reporters at both by-election counts with our live blog below.
Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth by-election live
Good morning and welcome to our live blog
Good morning and welcome to our live blog of the two key by-elections being held today. Polls have opened in both Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth, Staffordshire.
The Conservatives will be hoping to hold on to both, which used to be very safe Tory seats with majorities of more than 19,000 in 2019. Labour are the bookies favourites to win Tamworth, while the Tories are odds on in Mid Bedfordshire.
Send any comments, gossip or pictures of dogs at polling stations to [email protected].
A few key timings for any political anoraks planning on staying up the whole night:
- 10pm - polls close
- 1.30am (20 October) - Mid Bedfordshire result expected
- 3.30am - Tamworth result expected
Mid Bedfordshire: Nadine Dorries quits
Outspoken Tory Nadine Dorries finally quit as an MP at the end of August, after previously saying in June that she would resign after not getting a peerage. Before resigning, Dorries had not spoken in the House of Commons for more than a year and had only mentioned her constituency name once in the chamber since the 2019 election.
She had also got rid of her constituency office. Her daughter was employed as her senior parliamentary assistant, being paid between £45,000 and £49,999 a year. When NationalWorld visited her constituency, almost everyone we spoke to said they wanted Dorries to resign. One woman said: “It’s an illusion we have an MP - she doesn’t exist as far as we can tell."
While Roger Kennedy, 75, told NationalWorld that he voted for Dorries at the last election, but he would not be voting Conservative again. “She is definitely absent,” he told NationalWorld. “I’m very disappointed with the fact she’s not come back into the local community and acted for the local community.”
He added: “She’s done a lot of things in the past which I’ve not agreed with. Although I voted for her, I have now changed my allegiance - I will not be voting in that way again. It would be nice to have personal representation, a lot more to do with the community.”
Dorries won a majority of 24,664 in the last election, but this is seen as a three-way race between the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems. If an opposition party won, it would be the biggest majority ever overturned in a by-election
Tamworth: Chris Pincher groping scandal
The Tamworth by-election has been called after a scandal which ultimately brought the downfall of Boris Johnson's government. Chris Pincher, Tamworth's Tory MP, resigned as deputy chief whip in August 2022 after drunkenly groping two men in the Carlton Club.
After the scandal erupted, more allegations against Pincher emerged. Johnson was briefed “in person” about a previous investigation into the conduct of Pincher when he was a Foreign Office minister, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office said, however the then-PM denied he'd heard any allegations against the Tamworth MP before appointing him to the front bench.
This precipitated dozens of members of government resigning, before eventually Johnson followed suit. Since resigning from the government, Pincher had the whip removed but stayed on as MP for more than a year, raking in the £86,000 annual salary.
He had sought to reduce the potentially by-election triggering eight-week suspension recommended by the Commons Standards Committee for what was found to be an “egregious case of sexual misconduct”, but Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) dismissed his appeal.
Pincher had a majority of more than 19,000 in 2019, however the bookies think Labour could take this - in what would be a huge swing.
Sunak will be out of the country for by-elections
Rishi Sunak's trip to Israel and the wider Middle East means he will be out of the country when the results of the by-elections come in early on Friday morning.
Sunak will hold talks with the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Isaac Herzog as he starts a two-day trip that is expected to take in a number of capitals in the region.
'I spent two hours on the streets of Tamworth - and not one person had any praise for politicians'
My colleague Isabella Boneham, who is covering the count at Tamworth tonight, visited the Staffordshire town ahead of today's election to see what the mood was like. And she found voters who were unhappy with politicians:
I travelled to Tamworth’s high street on Monday (16 October) to understand how local people are feeling about the town’s upcoming by-election and what they want to see from their next MP. Walking down the high street at around 10am, there were few people around and I could see some shops had closed down leaving empty buildings.
Some building work was going on with one resident telling me it is going to be a new Nationwide, which he hoped would maybe bring more shoppers into the town. He said Tamworth is like “a ghost town” now and he would rather shop further afield in Lichfield. He was not impressed, and not impressed with his former MP Chris Pincher either.
He said the MP, who resigned last month after he groped two men last year, “didn’t leave a good taste in the mouth” and it has made him lose “a bit of confidence”. However, he said he will still vote Conservative in the by-election to give the party “another chance”’.
A lot of locals I talked to were very much not impressed with Pincher and rightly so. A lot seemed very fed up with politicians altogether - there was not one person who had a good thing to say, apart from one woman who said she had “faith” in the Labour party. Another said she was just voting Conservative because she always had - and her husband would vote for himself instead if he could.
How many candidates are there?
Voters in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire still have just under seven hours left to vote for their next MP. But who will they be choosing between?
In Tamworth, there are nine candidates vying to replace Christ Pincher. These are:
- Andrew Cooper (Conservative)
- Sarah Edwards (Labour)
- Sunny Virk (Liberal Democrats)
- Dr Sue Howarth (Green Party)
- Ian Cooper (Reform UK)
- Peter Longman (Independent)
- Ashlea Simon (Britain First)
- Howling Laud Hope (Official Monster Raving Loony Party)
- Robert Bilcliff (UKIP)
In Mid Bedfordshire, there are 13 people hoping to take Nadine Dorries' place as MP. These are:
- Festus Akinbusoye, (Conservative)
- Alistair Luke Strathern, (Labour)
- Emma Louise Holland-Lindsay, (Liberal Democrats)
- Cade Sibley, (Green Party)
- Gareth Mackey, (Independent)
- Dave Holland, (Reform UK)
- Sid Cordle, (Christian Peoples Alliance)
- Ann Kelly, (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party)
- Alberto George Thomas, (Heritage Party)
- Alan Victor, (True & Fair Party)
- Antonio Daniel Vintello, (English Democrats "Putting England First")
- Prince Ankit, (Love Emperor of India)
- Chris Rooney, (Mainstream)
Good evening, there are just over two hours until polls close in the two key by-elections. It's been a wet and windy day so hopefully that hasn't put off voters, although by-elections always have lower turnout.
The first key time to look out for is 10pm which is when polls close - and we'll get a better idea of how the parties are feeling. The first result is expected to come in at around 1.30pm in Mid Bedfordshire, which is the count I'm covering. My colleague Isabella Boneham may have to wait until 3.30pm for the result in Tamworth, so plenty of coffee for Isabella.
The races are expected to be close, so I wouldn't rule out recounts at either.
Sunak arrives in Saudi Arabia
While we're waiting with baited breath for voters in Staffordshire and Bedfordshire to get to the polls we'll cover off some of the other main stories.
Rishi Sunak has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the second leg of his Middle East tour that included a visit to Israel, where he was told to brace for a “long war” with Hamas. Sunak is set to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this evening as he urges leaders in the region not to allow the Israeli-Hamas battle escalate into a wider conflict.
He travelled from Tel Aviv after meetings with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Isaac Herzog. Netanyahu told Sunak that he hoped for the UK’s “continuous support” as it fights back against Hamas following the Palestinian militant group’s deadly and unprecedented assault on Israel on 7 October.
43 more schools found to have crumbly concrete
Probably not the news the government was hoping to come out on polling day in two key by-elections.
Collapse-prone concrete has been found in 43 more schools in England, bringing the total number affected to 217, my colleague Imogen Howse reports.
The Department for Education (DfE) announced the update to the long-running saga around reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) on Thursday (19 October), renewing fears around disruption to the education of pupils who have already had to suffer through the pandemic and teacher strikes.
In a statement following the new figure of affected schools, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: "I want to reassure all pupils, parents, and staff that this government is doing whatever it takes to support our schools and colleges in responding to RAAC and minimise disruption to education."
However, some remained unconvinced, with Daniel Kebede, NEU general secretary, remarking: "The reluctance to publish on time speaks volumes, demonstrating that there is a failure at the heart of government to take seriously the various crises facing education. It should not have to fall to the NEU to chase the DfE for information they pledged to regularly provide.”