THE omens are so many and so bad for the Conservatives it’s hard to know where to start. 

The by-election losses in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire are making this parliament a record breaker for Rishi Sunak’s party. 

Impregnable majorities are falling like autumn leaves and extreme swings are the norm.

Only two weeks ago the Prime Minister told his conference that he was the true face of political change in the UK, the genuine reformer, the break from “30 years of a political system that incentivises the easy decision, not the right one”.

But voters, who remember the Tories were in power for the last 13 of those years, plus more in the 1990s, aren’t buying it.

They remember the five prime ministers since 2010, the austerity, Brexit chaos, the Covid deaths and the Partygate hypocrisy. They remember Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. Oh, they remember it all.

So Mr Sunak’s mantra of change isn’t working for him, whereas Sir Keir Starmer’s offer of change with Labour most definitely is.

The common factor on Thursday was a massive collapse in the Tory vote.

The Conservatives had a 42.6 per cent majority over Labour in Tamworth in 2019, making it one of the bluest seats in the country. Labour won it with a swing of 23.9%. 

It was the second largest swing to Labour in a by-election since 1945.

Three of the top six post-1945 swings to Labour from the Tories have been this year alone. 

Tamworth was the second largest, Selby & Ainsty in July the third largest (23.7%), and Mid Bedfordshire was the sixth largest (20.5%).

The swing from the SNP to Labour in Rutherglen & Hamilton West this month was 20.4%.

Labour also won Mid Bedfordshire in record terms on another metric, flipping the largest majority by votes since 1945, turning a Tory lead of 24,664 into a Labour one of 1,192.  

Labour’s run of record breakers follows a streak by the Liberal Democrats, who have racked up four huge gains from the Tories in this parliament, starting with Chesham & Amersham in July 2021 (25.2% swing), North Shropshire in December 2021 (34.1%), Tiverton & Honiton in June last year (29.9%) and Somerton & Frome this July (29%).

Mr Sunak is facing the dreaded pincer movement that has finished off many of his Tory predecessors - mass tactical voting that helps both Labour and the LibDems gain MPs.

Already wretched going into their conference, Tory MPs across the country are now likely to panic about the prospect of losing their seat as nowhere will feel safe, leading to the kind of blame games and feuding that risks tarnishing their party even more.  

But the misery for the Conservatives doesn’t end there.

One of the things that helped Boris Johnson win his majority in 2019 was the decision by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party not to contest any of the 317 Tory-held seats.

It meant Leavers and others who wanted to ‘Get Brexit Done’ flocked to the Tories.

But Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit party, has said it intends to stand candidates in all 630 mainland seats being contested by the Conservatives next year, potentially splitting the vote on the right. Thursday’s byelections showed just how important that could be.

In both seats, Reform UK polled more than the margin of victory.

In Tamworth, the party got 1,373 votes and Labour won by 1,316. In Mid Bedfordshire, Reform UK got 1,487 votes, almost 300 more than Labour’s winning margin.

Reform UK leader Richard Tice insisted after the results that he would keep his promise to stand candidates across Britain. If he does, it could cost the Tories dearly. 

Speaking on a visit to Egypt, Mr Sunak trotted out the usual lines about “local factors at play” and “midterm elections are always difficult for incumbent governments”. 

But this isn’t a mid-term government. It’s a government around a year from the polls. As for local factors, they were a drunken sex scandal and an MP in a huff about not getting a peerage, symptoms of an out-of-touch government riddled with moral decay. 

No wonder Professor Sir John Curtice likened the situation to the end of the John Major era.

The last time a government saw swings this big to the main party of opposition was in the 1992-1997 parliament, when Labour got four by-election swings above 20%.

Mr Sunak has lost three by-elections on 20%-plus swings to Labour in three months.

If he avoids complacency, a Blair-style landslide appears to be within Sir Keir’s grasp.