News

Labour on course for double by-election win over the Tories as Keir Starmer’s party wins Kingswood for the first time in almost 20 years and declares victory in Wellingborough to heap pressure on Rishi Sunak


Labour was on course for a double by-election win in ex-Tory seats that heaps pressure on Rishi Sunak this morning as Keir Starmer’s party won Kingswood for the first time in almost 20 years.

Damien Egan won the seat by almost 2,500 seats, overturning an 11,000 Tory majority on a swing of 16.4 percentage points – some way above the 11.4-point swing the party needed to win the seat.

But the Tories could have held on to the seat were it not for the Reform Party. Its candidate, the former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe, won 2,578 votes, bigger than the 2,476-vote margin of victory.

The opposition has also declared victory in Wellingborough, the former safe Tory seat vacated by a disgraced MP to heap pressure on Rishi Sunak in a general election year.

Keir Starmer‘s party believes Gen Kitchen has won Wellingborough in the party’s first victory there in more than 20 years, in one of two by-elections taking place.

It means the Government has clocked up more by-election losses in a single parliament than any administration since the 1960s. 

After the Kingswood result, Sir Keir said: ‘By winning in this Tory stronghold, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them.’

Damien Egan won the seat by almost 2,500 seats, overturning an 11,000 Tory majority.

Damien Egan won the seat by almost 2,500 seats, overturning an 11,000 Tory majority.

But the Tories could have held on to the seat were it not for the Reform Party. Its candidate, the former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe, won 2,578 votes, bigger than the margin of victory.

But the Tories could have held on to the seat were it not for the Reform Party. Its candidate, the former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe, won 2,578 votes, bigger than the margin of victory.

Keir Starmer 's party believes Gen Kitchen has won Wellingborough in the party's first victory there in more than 25 years, in one of two by-elections taking place.

Keir Starmer ‘s party believes Gen Kitchen has won Wellingborough in the party’s first victory there in more than 25 years, in one of two by-elections taking place.

Labour’s win in Kingswood means the Conservatives have now lost nine by-elections in the course of this parliament – one more than the eight defeats suffered by the 1992-97 Conservative administration led by John Major. 

Both seats were won by the Tories with healthy five-digit majorities in 2019. But turnout in both votes was below 40 per cent, with senior figures expecting disaffected Conservatives to stay away from the ballot boxes. 

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, who is at the Wellingborough count, said the atmosphere among the Labour camp is ‘excited and expectant’. 

Kingswood result 

Damien Egan (Lab) 11,176 

Sam Bromiley (Con) 8,675 

Rupert Lowe (Reform) 2,578 

Lorraine Francis (Green) 1,450 

Andrew Brown (Lib Dem) 861

Nicholas Wood (UKIP) 129

Wellingborough in Northamptonshire is the former seat of Peter Bone, who was forced out by a recall petition after a Parliamentary probe ruled he bullied and sexually mistreated a former aide. 

To make things worse, Mr Bone’s partner, Helen Harrison, was the controversial choice for Wellingborough candidate for the party.

Party sources said Tory voters appeared to have stayed at home in large numbers, denying there had been a big switch to Labour. 

It comes against a backdrop of the UK falling into recession today, a month before the next Budget, and months before the whole country is due to go to the polls. 

However, the result will also be watched closely by Labour, which has also had a torrid week of negative headlines over green policy and Gaza, to see if they have affected the party’s popularity.

Meanwhile few MPs have campaigned for Sam Bromiley in Kingswood, a seat in the Bristol suburbs that will disappear later this year at the general election. Previous MP Chris Skidmore quit in protest in Kingswood at the government backing off Net Zero plans. 

There were 24,905 votes cast in Kingswood, a turnout of 37.11 per cent. 

Conservative deputy chairman Luke Hall said his party had run a ‘great campaign’ in Kingswood, but admitted the contest was ‘difficult’.

He told the BBC: ‘By-elections are always difficult for governing parties. Tony Blair lost by-elections, David Cameron lost by-elections, and then went on to win majorities and actually increase their share of the vote at the next general election.

‘So I think we should be careful about reading too much into any specific by-election result because a lot of different factors are at play.

The Tories do not expect to win the Kingswood and Wellingborough (pictured) contests despite them taking place in what should be very safe seats.

The Tories do not expect to win the Kingswood and Wellingborough (pictured) contests despite them taking place in what should be very safe seats.

A Tory defeat in either constituency in the early hours of the morning would mean the Government has clocked up more by-election losses in a single parliament than any administration since the 1960s.

A Tory defeat in either constituency in the early hours of the morning would mean the Government has clocked up more by-election losses in a single parliament than any administration since the 1960s.

The votes have been triggered by the recall of Peter Bone (pictured, with his partner, the Tory Wellingborough candidate Helen Harrison)  in Wellingborough over bullying allegations, and Chris Skidmore (below) quitting in protest in Kingswood at the government backing off Net Zero plans.

The votes have been triggered by the recall of Peter Bone (pictured, with his partner, the Tory Wellingborough candidate Helen Harrison)  in Wellingborough over bullying allegations, and Chris Skidmore (below) quitting in protest in Kingswood at the government backing off Net Zero plans.

Both seats were won with healthy five-digit majorities in 2019. But senior figures expect a low turnout as disaffected Conservatives stay away from the ballot boxes.

Both seats were won with healthy five-digit majorities in 2019. But senior figures expect a low turnout as disaffected Conservatives stay away from the ballot boxes.

‘But it’s too early to say what this result might be, we will just have to wait a few hours to find out, but we fought a great campaign, I’m proud of what we’ve done, I very much hope we get a good result.’

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, added: ‘Our campaigns have focused relentlessly on the cost of living and delivering for working people. We have highlighted that people in Kingswood and Wellingborough deserve better than a Tory government which has presided over 14 years of failure and left the economy in tatters. Rishi’s recession means this Tory Government is unable to concentrate on what matters to people in both these areas and across the country.’

Keir Starmer has been derided for his weak response to comments by his candidate in the upcoming Rochdale by-election. 

Azhar Ali apologised after he was recorded during a meeting of Lancashire Labour members suggesting that Israel had taken Hamas‘ October 7 attack as a pretext to invade Gaza.

Ballot boxes arrive as polls close and counting begins for the Wellingborough by-election at the Kettering Leisure Village

Ballot boxes arrive as polls close and counting begins for the Wellingborough by-election at the Kettering Leisure Village

Ballots are counted in the Kingswood by-election. Kingswood will only exist as a constituency until the next election when it will disappear due to boundary changes

Ballots are counted in the Kingswood by-election. Kingswood will only exist as a constituency until the next election when it will disappear due to boundary changes

The party leadership initially stood by him, but withdrew its backing after allegations emerged that he had also blamed ‘people in the media from certain Jewish quarters’ for the suspension of Labour MP Andy McDonald.

A second parliamentary candidate, Graham Jones, was suspended on Tuesday after audio obtained by website Guido Fawkes appeared to show the former Labour MP using abusive language at the same meeting Mr Ali attended.

Both votes are seen as two-horse races between Labour and the Conservatives – though the Tories are also threatened by strengthening support for Reform UK.

Kingswood’s vote was triggered by Mr Skidmore’s resignation as an MP in protest at Government legislation to boost North Sea oil and gas drilling.

He won the Gloucestershire constituency for the Tories at the past four general elections, before which Labour held it at every general election since 1992.

The Opposition needs a much smaller swing to overturn the Conservative majority of 23 per cent than the ones it recently secured in Tamworth, Selby and Ainsty and Mid Bedfordshire.

The by-election in Wellingborough comes after former Tory MP Mr Bone received a six-week suspension from the Commons when an inquiry found he had subjected a staff member to bullying and sexual misconduct.

He won the Northamptonshire constituency at every general election from 2005 to 2019, with Labour coming second in four of the five contests and Ukip in 2015. His majority in 2019 was 36 per cent.

The swing needed by Labour to win the seat is at 17.9 percentage points – in other words, the equivalent of a net change of 18 in every 100 people who voted Tory in 2019 switching sides.

A Savanta poll conducted over the weekend showed Labour 12 points ahead, but the advantage had dropped dramatically

A Savanta poll conducted over the weekend showed Labour 12 points ahead, but the advantage had dropped dramatically

The outcomes in Kingswood and Wellingborough will be closely watched for evidence of any hit to Sir Keir's (pictured this morning) support from the party's meltdown over the Middle East

The outcomes in Kingswood and Wellingborough will be closely watched for evidence of any hit to Sir Keir’s (pictured this morning) support from the party’s meltdown over the Middle East

This is still a smaller swing than the ones managed by Labour in 2023 at the by-elections in Tamworth, Selby & Ainsty and Mid Bedfordshire.

One senior Tory who has been on doorsteps in the seats over the past week told MailOnline: ‘Kingswood and Wellingborough are going to be lost. But the narrative is that Keir is expected to win them, and the turnout is going to be very low again. 

‘He is not convincing people, it’s the Tories not showing up.’ 

According to the latest voting intention poll from Savanta, the lead enjoyed by Labour over the Conservatives has dropped by seven points after a turbulent couple of weeks for the party.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party has held a sustained double-digit advantage over the Tories in national opinion polls, but the past week has been overshadowed by criticism of remarks made by Rochdale candidate

Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm on Thursday, with the results expected to be declared in both constituencies some time after 4am.

The Rochdale by-election will take place separately on February 29.

Due to new laws brought in by the Government, voters will need to bring photo ID – such as a passport or driving licence – in order to cast their ballots.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button