EXC: Mid Beds by-election battle 'has poisoned Lib-Lab pact'10/09/2023
Mid Beds by-election battle ‘has poisoned Lib-Lab pact’ with Labour insiders warning they won’t stand aside for Lib Dems any more
The Lib-Lab non-aggression pact looks to be splintering at the parties clash over the Mid Bedfordshire by-election.
Labour insiders have vented fury at the Lib Dems’ dirty tactics in the contest, triggered by former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries quitting.
Keir Starmer’s allies have been incensed by Ed Davey’s refusal to concede that his candidate has no chance of winning next week.
A senior figure told MailOnline that they fear the Lib Dems will split the left-wing vote and allow the Tories to cling on – warning that Labour will now be less willing to cooperate in other parts of the country.
The squabbling is in stark contrast to other recent by-elections, where one of the parties has effectively stood aside to maximise the chances of Conservative defeat.
The extent of the collaboration has been underlined by each losing their deposit in contests – meaning they secured a negligible proportion of the vote.
Keir Starmer ‘s allies have been incensed by Ed Davey’s refusal to concede that the Lib Dems have no chance of winning next week (Sir Ed is pictured campaigning with his candidate in the seat last week)
Labour and the Lib Dems have ruled out a formal coalition if the next election produces a hung Parliament, but there have been hints at an informal arrangement to prop Sir Keir (pictured in Mid Beds) up in Downing Street
Tories have been alarmed at the prospect of the two main opposition parties working together to shut them out of crucial seats.
Labour and the Lib Dems have ruled out a formal coalition if the next election produces a hung Parliament, but there have been hints at an informal arrangement to prop Sir Keir up in Downing Street.
There have been claims that a deal could involve reducing the voting age to 16, something that could hit the Tories whose supporters tend to be older, or even switching to a proportional representation electoral system.
The senior Labour insider told MailOnline that all the data had been showing that Labour is the only realistic challenger in Mid Beds, which has been held by the Tories since 1931.
They expressed bewilderment about the Lib Dems’ refusing to recognise the situation, and pointed to highly-aggressive campaigning with skewed poll charts and ‘untrue’ claims about the Labour candidate not being a local.
‘They have been absolutely awful in this campaign. No one why they have gone scorched earth. We’ve put complaints in about the literature,’ the insider said.
‘There’s been a collegiate atmosphere before. We didn’t need a meeting in a shadowy room to decide on Somerset & Froome.
‘But we won’t help them any more if this is how they are going to be. We won’t be taking resources away where they are more likely to win.’
The Labour source swiped that the Lib Dems are ‘just desperate to get Mid Deds to stay relevant’, giving a damning assessment of Sir Ed’s stewardship.
‘The fundamentals are way out for the Lib Dems. They have a leader no one could pick out of a line up. They don’t have any flagship policies,’ they said.
The insider also dismissed the idea the Lib Dems could be a factor in Tamworth, saying they ‘don’t have enough money’ to fight on both fronts.
Polls have suggested that the by-election is tight between Labour and the Tories
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