Lib-Lab pact descends into chaos over Mid Beds by-election

Lib-Lab pact descends into chaos: Lib Dems claim they took votes off Tories to gift Keir Starmer victory in Mid Beds – but Labour complain that Ed Davey’s party just split left-wing support

The fledgling Lib-Lab pact descended into chaos today as Ed Davey’s party claimed credit for Labour’s stunning Mid Bedfordshire by-election win.

Relations have soured after the Lib Dems refused to step back from the contest, and were accused of highly personal attacks on Labour’s candidate.

Keir Starmer’s allies had warned that the stubborn stance could split the left-wing vote and allow the Tories to cling on.   

But deputy leader Daisy Cooper insisted this morning that the Lib Dems played a ‘crucial role’ by taking the votes of ‘lifelong Conservatives’ in villages who would not have switched to Labour.

That was dismissed by shadow minister Peter Kyle, who ran Labour’s campaign. He complained about ‘nonsensical statistics’ used by the Lib Dems and swiped that they were not ‘taken seriously’ by voters.

The fledgling Lib-Lab pact descended into chaos today as Ed Davey’s (left) party claimed credit for Keir Starmer’s (right) stunning Mid Bedfordshire by-election win 

He said: ‘Don’t mistake action with heat. The Lib Dems made a lot of noise and heat during this campaign, but it never translated into action on the ground.

‘We did that the hard way, by earning it. You can’t come in here, make a lot of noise and think you have the right to be taken seriously.’

Mr Kyle said that the Lib Dems had come into the constituency ‘hammering from the left, hammering from the right’ and ‘coming up with statistics that were completely nonsensical’.

‘Voters saw through the Lib Dem heat and fury for what it was,’ he added.

Ms Cooper said of the result in Mid Beds: ‘We nearly doubled our share of the vote which would see the Lib Dems win dozens of seats off the Conservatives in a general election.

‘The Liberal Democrats played a crucial role in defeating the Conservatives in Mid Bedfordshire, and we can play a crucial role in getting rid of this Conservative government at the next election.

‘I’m so proud of Emma Holland-Lindsay and her campaign which convinced thousands of lifelong Conservative voters in the villages of Mid Bedfordshire to switch to the Liberal Democrats.’

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 earlier this month that Labour will now be less willing to cooperate in other parts of the country.

The squabbling was 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.

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.  

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