Mid Bedfordshire Election Odds: Tories Grab Labour Lead For Nadine Dorries’ Old Seat
UK betting sites have sensationally shifted their odds on the Mid Bedfordshire by-election and now tip the Conservatives to beat Labour and the Liberal Democrats in Nadine Dorries’ former seat.
The Lib Dems initially looked on course to claim the vacated seat and take it off the Tories for the first time since 1931. Labour have also led the betting in this race after their stellar by-election results elsewhere in the country reflected their 20-point lead over the Conservatives nationally.
However, in recent weeks Tory candidate Festus Akinbusoye has picked up greater support in the aftermath of Dorries’ departure and the bookies now reckon he’s on course for victory.
Voters head to the ballot boxes on Thursday, October 19.
A Survation poll in September found Akinbusoye to be neck-and-neck with his Labour counterpart Alistair Strathern.
Support for the Lib Dem candidate Emma Holland-Lindsay has ebbed away, so much so that it now appears a straight-up battle between the Conservatives and Labour for the hotly-contested seat.
By-elections can often reflect the mood of the nation and Mid Bedfordshire is considered a crucial seat for both leading parties. Dorries quit the constituency with a 24,664 majority.
Were Labour to overhaul that, it would act as further fuel for Sir Keir Starmer’s argument that a general election is needed soon.
But Akinbusoye’s charge in the polls in recent weeks suggests Labour are not guaranteed to take this seat for the first time in its 105-year history.
Mid Bedfordshire Election Betting
Analysing the Mid Bedfordshire betting odds gives us a clue as to how Akinbusoye has shot ahead of Labour’s Strathern in the running here.
Back in the summer Strathern was the 5/4 favourite, while Akinbusoye was priced out at 9/4. That suggested just a 30.8% chance of the Tory candidate winning this seat.
But in recent weeks Akinbusoye’s odds have fallen, while Strathern’s have remained the same. Something needs to counterbalance Akinbusoye’s price shortening. That something is Liberal Democrat candidate Emma Holland-Lindsay, who has seen her odds widen, so much so that she’s now out at 4/1.
Political betting sites now reckon Akinbusoye has a 50% chance of claiming the seat and Strathern remains at 44.4%.
Interestingly, the candidate with the biggest share of bets in this market is Holland-Lindsay with 42%. Evidently punters are looking at her price and throwing support behind her, even though the Lib Dems are polling at 22 points.
So, why have the bookies suddenly gone big on the Conservatives? Much of it has to do with the concern across the left that having Labour and Lib Dem candidates will spread the anti-Tory vote so thin that Akinbusoye will earn the most votes.
The bookies have generally assumed the anti-Conservative vote would lean more heavy on Labour – a trend that is reflected nationally, with Labour polling at 45% compared to the Lib Dems’ 10%.
Betting On The Conservatives
Meanwhile, UK bookmakers have opened up a couple more markets on Mid Bedfordshire due to the uncertainty over who will actually win the seat.
These markets focus on the Tories. They were once favourites at 6/5 to finish runner-up in Dorries’ old seat, but now Labour are favourites for second place at 11/10. Akinbusoye, by contrast, is Evens to finish second.
Remember, Dorries’ huge majority is unlikely to be replicated since she quit in protest to being barred from a seat in the House of Lords.
Betting apps also think Akinbusoye is likely to get between 30% and 35% of the vote, at odds of 6/4.
Interestingly, this could be enough to win the seat if the anti-Tory vote splits evenly between Labour and the Lib Dems.
A more realistic outcome, however, is Akinbusoye picking up 25% to 30% of the vote share at odds of 9/4.
Why The Mid Bedfordshire Election Is Important
The reason this is such a big by-election is because of the parties contesting it. Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories are all desperate for good news.
Labour want to look like they’re destined for government; the Conservatives are desperate to appear the natural choice for voters; and the Lib Dems hope to build momentum off the back of by-election wins.
All three secured a victory at the July by-elections in Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Con), Selby and Ainsty (Lab) and Somerton and Frome (Lib Dem).
It meant all three could peddle their own narrative as to why they are the party to vote for at the next UK general election.
What makes this vote particularly interesting is Dorries’ massive majority. It is a seat held mostly by the Conservatives since 1931 and the anyone-but-Tory vote could split between Labour and the Lib Dems, leading to Akinbusoye winning the most votes.
There are calls for the Lib Dems to step aside and let Labour candidate Strathern go for victory.
There’s also hope across the left that Holland-Lindsay and Strathern will at least cease from criticising each other.
Only three months ago did we see what happens when parties split a vote. Labour lost Boris Johnson’s former constituency Uxbridge and South Ruislip by 495 votes to Conservative candidate Steve Tuckwell.
Had the 893 people who voted Green sided with Labour – and their ULEZ policy – then Danny Boy Beales would have won.
This could happen again here, with anti-Tory voters siding either with Labour or the Lib Dems, and letting Akinbusoye cut through the middle to win with a small majority. It would be a huge boost to PM Rishi Sunak were Akinbusoye to do this.
Currently polling data that takes Uxbridge and South Ruislip into account reckons the Conservatives will win, with Labour second and the Lib Dems third.
The betting data, which narrowly backed the Lib Dems when the markets opened, now reflect this too. How this plays out, though, remains to be seen.
But we’re still awaiting concrete polling from Mid Bedfordshire that could trigger major movement in the odds.
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