Nadine Dorries looked set to quit as an MP to go and serve in the House of Lords. Well one part of that sentence came to fruition but the other, well it did not. The 66-year-old announced her resignation last Friday, which will force a by-election in a truly safe Tory seat but the odds suggest that is not the case. Let’s check them out…
Mid Bedfordshire By-Election Odds:
- Lib Dems – 4/11
- Conservatives – 9/4
- Labour – 12/1
- Reform UK – 100/1
- Green Party – 250/1
*odds correct as of 10AM, Monday 12 June, 2023
An updated article including the latest Mid Bedfordshire By-Election Odds was posted on Monday 4 September, 2023
So the traders and punters here at Betfred believe that the favourites should in fact be the party who lost this seat by nearly 25,000 votes in the last General Election. On the face of it that makes absolutely zero sense but when you remember what Sir Ed Davey’s party have done in three recent by-elections is firmly Tory held seats, everything becomes crystal clear.
If this were a General Election then you’d still expect the Tories to win this seat and in all honesty, with relative ease. This is a relatively wealthy seat which has returned a Conservative member of parliament every single time its constituents have voted since 1929. The only time they haven’t even made it to the 50% mark were the years Tony Blair was winning landslides. This is absolutely rock solid true blue.
Yet, this is a by-election and in Chesham & Amersham, North Shropshire and Tiverton & Honiton, stonking majorities in similar solid Conservative seats weren’t just eaten into, they were well and truly blown up and saw three new Liberal Democrat MPs returned to the House of Commons. It feels all a bit 1990s when the ‘yellow peril’ as they were called (and some do indeed still call them that) had a habit of going into solid Tory-held seats and winning when it came to these mid-parliament votes.
It won’t shock anyone who is remotely political that the Lib Dems are ready to throw the kitchen sink at this seat. Already activists are very much on the ground with leaflets and canvassing sessions taking place over the weekend. These are the types of ballots the party prepares for and having seen what they’ve done in recent history, you can see why they are the betting favourites.
With this by-election likely to be called for the same day as Uxbridge & South Ruislip (along with Selby & Ainsty), this gives the two major English based opposition parties a chance to coordinate their efforts to give each of them the best chance of defeating the Tories. They did this last year when the Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton votes were both held on June 23. On that day, both parties came away having won in their focused constituency. I fully expect the same to happen this time around.
Overturning a nigh on 25,000 majority is incredibly tough. Whilst watching Sky News on Friday night (because I’m cool, not because Kent cricket wanted me to pay £5.99 for the Hampshire stream and I refused), their political correspondent basically rubbished the very notion that the Lib Dems would take the seat explaining that the by-election would be an irritant rather than an actual problem for Rishi Sunak. I’m guessing her memory of other 20,000+ majorities being overturned in the past year or two were a bit hazy.
Personally, seeing Sir Ed Davey’s party at such a short price worries me but on the other hand, plenty of natural Conservative voters are not happy with the direction their party is going in. By-elections are the home of the protest vote and giving a bloody nose to the party they naturally feel at home to casting their ballot for happens in exactly these scenarios. I’d lean Lib Dem here to pile yet more pressure on to the Prime Minister heading into a General Election year.