By election live: Labour takes momentous wins in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire - full results

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Follow the latest news, analysis and gossip from NationalWorld reporters at the by-election counts in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth on our live blog below.

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.

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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

Bad news number 2 - crumbly concrete in hospitals

More bad news that the government hoped wouldn't come out on by-election day - 18 more hospital sites have been identified as having RAAC (see below).

Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has wasted no time, saying: "Now the full extent of RAAC in hospitals has been exposed, the Government's inaction is even more damning.

"The Conservatives must be clear about their plan to fix this crisis. Patients deserve to know if they are at risk from hospitals in need of urgent repairs.

Getty Images

"The Tories literally did not fix the roof when the sun was shining, and now patients have to make do with crumbling hospitals for years to come. Only Labour can restore the NHS to good health and make it fit for the future."

Bad news number 3 - Sunak referred to as 'Doctor Death' during pandemic

The third round of by-election bad news -government advisers referred to Rishi Sunak as “Dr Death” during the pandemic, PA reports.

The inquiry also heard that putting the country into full lockdown to mitigate the impact of the virus was a “necessary evil”.

WhatsApp messages shown to the Covid-19 Inquiry between epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds and Professor Dame Angela McLean – now chief scientific adviser to the Government – took place during a meeting in September 2020.

Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty ImagesRishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

Dame Angela messaged Prof Edmunds, referring to “Dr Death the Chancellor”, the inquiry was told.

Prof Edmunds told the inquiry the reference “could well be” about the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which was devised by then-chancellor Sunak and deployed a month earlier in a bid to kick-start the restaurant industry following lockdown.

Asked about the “public impact” of Eat Out To Help Out, Prof Edmunds said: “To be honest, it made me angry.”

He said the Government had been “taking the foot off the brake” in easing restrictions but “to put the foot on the accelerator” seemed “perverse”.

In response to seeing the WhatsApp messages, Naomi Fulop, a spokeswoman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice UK, said the inquiry “has made clear that there was absolutely no consultation with the Government’s scientific advisers on Eat Out To Help Out”.

Polls close in by-elections

The polls have closed in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth. I'm in the smart Central Bedfordshire Council offices, where the count is happening for Mid Beds - and the rain is getting heavier. However we won't be getting a result for at least another three hours. If you're staying up with me put another coffee on.

Labour says winning seats is a 'long shot'

Now that the polls have closed we'll hear from the parties, who will have some idea of how well they've done from canvassing and getting out the vote through the day.

Labour appear to be trying to dampen down expectations. National Campaign Coordinator Pat McFadden said: “Our candidates and their teams in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire have worked extraordinarily hard to put Labour in the race for what are usually safe Tory seats.

“Our campaigns have focused ruthlessly on the issues that matter to local people: tackling crime, bringing down NHS waiting lists and addressing the cost of living. We’ve spoken to thousands of local people who are fed up with this chaotic, distracted Tory Party that does nothing but lurch from crisis to crisis.

 “But we have known all along that winning these seats would be a long shot, with huge majorities to overturn. The fact that we are even on the pitch is a sign of how far the Labour Party has changed. We are making real progress in all corners of our country and showing that with Labour, we can get Britain’s future back.”  

More expectation management from the Tories

It's a double dose of expectation management, with a Tory spokesperson saying: “These were always going to be challenging by-elections and the rule of thumb is that governments don’t win them.

“We have seen little to no enthusiasm for Sir Keir Starmer who voters can see stands for nothing and always puts short term political gain first.

“It is clear that we have to maintain our focus on people’s immediate priorities whilst taking long-term decisions which will lead to the change this country needs.”

Lib Dems 'bursting with pride at campaign'

The Lib Dems seem to be making similar noises to the Tories and Labour - come on guys, someone has to win these by-elections. Christine Jardine MP said: “Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the Lib Dem vote has surged in true blue villages across Bedfordshire, as former lifelong Conservative voters choose to send this government a message.

“I am bursting with pride at the campaign Emma Holland-Lindsay has run, which has offered Mid-Bedfordshire a positive and inspiring vision for change. Emma has rolled up her sleeves, ran constituency surgeries whilst the absent Conservative MP was nowhere to be found, and already begun the work of helping local people who have felt badly let down.

“Both Emma Holland-Lindsay in Mid-Bedfordshire and Sunny Virk in Tamworth have stood up for their communities against this out of touch Conservative government. They have done our party and our country’s democracy proud.”

Lib Dems confident they've taken Tory votes

At the Mid Bedfordshire by-election count and it feels like it's going to be a tight race. A Lib Dem source tells me: "I've no idea how it's going to go. We know we've taken a lot of Tory votes in the villages. It feels like Labour's support has hardened in the towns."

This is a rare three-way race between the main parties in a very rural seat. Flitwick, which one of the biggest towns in the constituency, has a population of just 10,000. The fact that Labour is competitive here shows that party is doing well nationally, but also speaks to the unpopularity of Nadine Dorries.

In Mid Bedfordshire, ballot boxes are currently being ferried into the count room - however we've been told the result won't be until 1.30am at the earliest.

Talking to one party insider, they think it could be much later, and there's a chance it could go to a recount if it's really close. So the 1.30am result time could be optimistic.

Ballot boxes arrive at Priory House. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA WireBallot boxes arrive at Priory House. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Ballot boxes arrive at Priory House. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire | Joe Giddens/PA Wire

In Tamworth, the result isn't expected until 3.30am to 4am. Perhaps they're just a bit more realistic than Mid Bedfordshire.

Even if Tories win both by-elections they could still be in serious trouble

It's worth bearing in mind that the Tories could win both seats and still be in serious trouble. Nadine Dorries had a majority of 24,000 votes in 2019, while Chris Pincher had a majority of more than 19,000, and yet Labour are in with a chance of winning both.

Each victory would be a by-election record for Labour in terms of swing and the size of the majority.

Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak. Credit: Getty/Mark Hall/AdobeSir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak. Credit: Getty/Mark Hall/Adobe
Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak. Credit: Getty/Mark Hall/Adobe | Getty/Mark Hall/Adobe

The Conservatives could hold onto both seats, despite a swing of 15% plus to Sir Keir Starmer's party - which would lead to a landslide Labour victory in a general election. As always the devil is in the detail.

Labour 'quietly confident' in Tamworth

Whispers coming in from Staffordshire are that Labour believe they are in with a chance of taking Tamworth, which would be a big result for the party.

Tamworth has traditionally been seen as a general election bell weather, going Conservative in 2010, although it is thought the seat has moved right in recent years.

Votes are counted in Tamworth. Credit: PAVotes are counted in Tamworth. Credit: PA
Votes are counted in Tamworth. Credit: PA | PA

Labour is helped by the fact it is the only challenger to the Tories in Tamworth, whereas in Mid Bedfordshire it is a three way race. The parties here appear to be in the dark, although Laura McConnell from Scottish Labour has just tweeted her party is "very confident on the ground" about taking Mid Bedfordshire.

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