By-Elections of the Wilson Government

  • David McKie


Until 1966, it had for many years been a rare exception for a seat to change hands in a by-election. The Labour Governments of 1945–51 lost only one seat. The Conservatives survived over five years after their return to power without any casualties, and actually picked up a seat from Labour in May 1953 — the first time since 1924 that the government had captured a seat from the opposition at a by-election. In the whole of their thirteen years the Conservatives lost only 10 seats — 8 to Labour, 2 to the Liberals.


General Election Opinion Poll Labour Government Labour Party Bank Rate 
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List of Sources

  1. 2.
    For a similar opinion, see Lord Wigg, George Wigg (1972).Google Scholar
  2. For a contrary view, see A. W. Singham, in D. E. Butler and A. King, The British General Election of 1964 (1956) pp. 363–4. Gordon Walker may also have been accident-prone. When NOP were carrying out an inquest on their inaccurate poll in Leyton, one elderly lady told them she had decided not to vote Labour after learning at the last minute who their candidate was. ‘It was that Lucky Gordon Walker’, she explained, ‘that was in the Christine Keeler case.’Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Michael Steed, in D. E. Butler and A. King, The British General Election of 1966 (1966) p. 290.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Iain McLean, The Rise and Fall of the Scottish National Party, offprinted from Political Studies (Oxford, 1970).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Ibid., p. 364. See also James Kellas, in D. E. Butler and M. Pinto-Duschinsky, The British General Election of 1970 (1971).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    J. P. Mackintosh, The Devolution of Power (1968).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    See the analysis in D. E. Butler and D. Stokes, Political Change in Britain (1969) pp. 436–7.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    See Anthony King, ‘Why All Governments Lose By-Elections, New Society, 21 Mar 1968.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    David McKie, ‘Two-way Politics’, Guardian, 20 July 1968.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    Robert Rhodes James, Ambitions and Realities (1972) pp. 124–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David McKie 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McKie

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