Why the Mid Bedfordshire by-election result is a big deal - and what it means for the Tories

Credit: ITV News Anglia
Labour candidate hugs his partner Megan Corton Scott as they celebrate the winning result. Credit: ITV News Anglia

For the residents of Mid Bedfordshire, it may have felt like the longest by-election battle in history - a contest that effectively began when Nadine Dorries announced her plan to quit more than four long months ago.

And it had all the ingredients for its result to have repercussions far beyond the constituency.

Unlike Tamworth - Thursday night's other by-election, and one which has flip-flopped between the major parties over the decades - Mid Beds has always been a safe Tory seat.

It's been held by the Conservatives at every election since 1931, and at the last General Election, Nadine Dorries won with a majority of 24,664. 

For Labour, a win here is the biggest Conservative majority they have overturned at a by-election since 1945. 

The party says it is thrilled with the result, adding that leaders had hardly dared to dream of winning in Mid-Bedfordshire.

Their new MP says this means Labour can win anywhere; Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says it shows voters are desperate for change. 

Mr Strathern said his victory in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election had "made history".

This is a seismic result.

It's the biggest majority Labour have overturned at a by-election , in what had always been a safe Tory seat.

That safe-as-houses Conservative majority of nearly 25,000 has now become a Labour majority of 1,192.

By-elections, of course, are different: a lower turnout, voters staying at home, or changing their vote as a protest against the government or a single issue.

In Mid Bedfordshire the behaviour of the previous MP did not go unnoticed.

Nadine Dorries announced she was quitting with immediate effect on 9 June, but did not officially hand her resignation in until the end of August.

Discussion of Nadine Dorries - and her acrimonious departure - has been a feature of the by-election. Credit: PA

It left the constituency without an MP for months - though many voters said she had been absent for much longer than that.

Mid Beds is a constituency with high levels of home ownership. Voters here are better off on average than many other constituencies, a rural patch with many villages and small towns.

For the Conservatives, it's the kind of constituency they see as traditional Tory territory.

They will look at this result and wonder what it might mean for the many other similar places across the region, and across the country.

The Tories have held Mid Bedfordshire since 1997. Credit: PA

This has been a three-way fight.

The Liberal Democrats started the campaign strongly, saying they could come from third place to win, pointing to other recent by-election successes.

Labour said from the start they were also in it to win it, and there were fears among opposition parties that the three-way fight would allow the Conservatives to hold on.

But the result of this by election will reverberate around Westminster. 

Conservatives will be asking if they cannot win here then where is safe at the next General Election?

Labour will be boosted by taking a safe seat from the Tories. 

As we head towards a General Election - expected next year - this result will have a major impact on the hopes and fears of MPs across the region, and the country.

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