The long drawn out (and some would say long overdue) resignation of former Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has resulted in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election, which will take place on Thursday 19 October 2023.
Dorries won the previously safe Tory seat (it’s been held by the Conservatives since 1931) with a huge majority of 24,664 in the last General Election back in 2019 and was the MP there since 2005. She stood down in August after Rishi Sunak refused to approve Boris Johnson’s honours list, in which Dorries (a vocal supporter of Johnson) had been promised a peerage.
Were the Conservatives to lose Mid Bedfordshire, it would be the biggest by-election defeat in British history. The current betting suggests the Conservatives losing Mid Bedfordshire is a distinct possibility, but the fact that this looks to be very much a three-horse race might just enable the Tories to cling on to the seat.
Recent opinion polls have the Conservative candidate Festus Akinbusoye and the Labour candidate Alistair Strathern virtually neck-and-neck, closely followed by the Liberal Democrat candidate Stephen Rutherford.
As things stand, Labour are marginal favourites to win the seat at 11/8 with Coral, the Conservatives now out to 2/1 with William Hill and the Liberal Democrats at 3/1 with BetFred.
The Government might be in disarray and their popularity and that of Sunak has gone through the floor, with the cost-of-living crisis and inflation hurting many of the electorate. However, the Conservatives recently narrowly held Johnson’s old seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in a by-election under similar circumstances.
When you take into account the huge Conservative majority in Mid Bedfordshire at the last General Election, the potential split in the vote of the opposition parties and the fact that the Tories know that if they can get their core voters out, a decent turnout should work in their favour, there does appear to be some value in backing their candidate to prevail at those odds of 2/1 with William Hill.
However, although the split of the anti-Conservative vote may allow the Tories to retain the seat, it could prove to be something of a pyrrhic victory.
Should Labour fail to take the seat, it could ultimately lead to some form of cooperation between the main opposition parties going into the next General Election (to be held no later than 28 January 2025). It’s also possible that such a result in Mid Bedfordshire could provide greater incentive for the electorate to vote tactically at the General Election.
The candidates in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election are:
- Festus Akinbusoye - Conservative
- Dave Holland - Reform UK
- Alistair Strathern - Labour
- Stephen Rutherford - Liberal Democrat
- Gareth Ellis - Green Party
- John Guinn - Independent
- Helen Geake - Heritage Party
Mid Bedfordshire By-Election
The split of the anti-Conservative vote may allow the Tories to win
At 2/1 a £10 bet would return £30
Mid Bedfordshire By-Election
October 19, 2023
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.