The Louth by-elections

When I spoke in the debate in the Lords last month to mark the contribution made to public life by women since the Representation of the People Act 1918, one of the reasons I gave for contributing was because the second woman to take her seat in the House of Commons, Margaret Wintringham (pictured), was returned as the MP for Louth.  She was elected at a by-election in 1921.  What was notable was not only that the election saw the return of the first British-born woman MP, but was also the third out of four elections to be held in the seat in almost as many years.

In the December 1918 general election, the Conservative candidate, Captain H.L. Brackenbury won the seat back from the Liberals, having held it in the first election of 1910.  Fourteen months later, he died, triggering a by-election.  The election was won by the Liberal, Tom Wintringham.  Just over a year later, in August 1921, he died.  His widow, Margaret, was selected as the candidate to succeed him.  Remarkably, she was elected despite not campaigning at all, out of respect for her late husband.  She was re-elected in the general election the following year, but lost the seat two years after that in the 1924 general election.  The seat was won by the Conservative, Arthur Heneage, and it has remained in Conservative hands ever since.

Heneage retired in 1945 and was succeeded by Cyril Osborne.  Osborne died in 1969, triggering another by-election.  The by-election was won by one Jeffery Archer.  That may make the basis of another post…

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to The Louth by-elections

  1. Croft says:

    “Remarkably, she was elected despite not campaigning at all, out of respect for her late husband. ”

    Is it? Widows standing in the seats of their husbands have a remarkable high success rate. I’m not sure who the last MP to be elected without campaigning might be (ignoring the war)

    • tizres says:

      Quite a challenge, but what are the parameters? One could say the Speaker who does not campaign on political issues (and that’s another set of parameters) but if you remove all campaign spending (short and long), that’s something else.

      A ‘close but no cigar’ candidate was Anna Forrest, but she lost to Bernadette Devlin in 1969.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Croft: The remarkable thing was not that succeeded her husband – that was the pattern for the first few women elected and who took their seats – but that she did no campaigning at all in what was a marginal seat. Nancy Astor – whose husband admittedly went upstairs in a different fashion to the husbands of the other women elected – certainly did campaign and energetically so.

  2. maude elwes says:

    For the 5th March, Happy Birthday, LN

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