The Spanish Civil War. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
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Limehouse III

The eccentric opponents faced by Clement Attlee in 1929.

In 1929, Clement Attlee had interesting opponents. The Communist Walter Tapsell went on to fight in the Spanish civil war in the first company of the British battalion, named the “Major Attlee Company” after the Labour leader. Tapsell was killed in the retreat from Aragon in 1938. His body
was never found.

The Liberal candidate was Jasper Jocelyn John Addis. In 1933, he was declared bankrupt; in 1947, he was struck off as a solicitor. Addis was jailed for fraud in 1954, having claimed that his life was in danger from the financier and alleged war profiteer George Dawson.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Evan Morgan (the second Viscount Tredegar) was a papal chamberlain, occultist, spy and owner of a boxing kangaroo. After the election, it was reported that one of his supporters had failed to turn up to his own wedding, after he was beaten up while canvassing.

This article first appeared in the 08 January 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Churchill Myth

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The SNP retains power as Scottish Labour faces being beaten into third

Ruth Davidson’s Conservative Party looks on track to become the official opposition in Holyrood.

As expected, the SNP have performed well in the Scottish elections, with an increased vote share and some key gains – particularly from Labour in Glasgow, where Nicola Sturgeon’s party took all eight constituency seats. As it stands, they could be on course for a second successive majority in Holyrood, once the list members are fully counted.

The story of the night, though, is the demise of Scottish Labour, which put in its worst ever performance in Scotland (my stalwart liveblogging colleague Stephen Bush points out that it’s the party’s worst result since universal suffrage was introduced in 1928). The party’s vote share was done across Scotland, and the results are sufficiently poor that they could see them fall behind the Conservatives to become the third biggest party north of the border.

Losses for Labour include seat of Eastwood in Glasgow, where Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw defeated Ken Macintosh. Labour had held the seat for 17 years, though it had been Conservative beforehand.

Other key losses for Scottish Labour include Dumfriesshire, where they were beaten into third; Renfrewshire South (which went to the SNP); Cowdenbeath, where Gordon Brown's old constituency manager and protégé Alex Rowley also lost to the SNP; Glasgow Pollok, where former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont lost to the SNP’s Humza Yousaf. There was a close call for Labour’s Jackie Baillie in Dumbarton, where she held on by just 109 votes.

Rare successes came in Edinburgh Southern, where Daniel Johnson took the seat from the SNP’s Jim Eadie (although since the seat is effectively a four-way marginal, it’s not a particularly indicative gain), and East Lothian, where former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray managed to increase a previously slender majority.

Speaking to the BBC, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“A very bad night for the Labour party… There’s no doubt that the constitution has dominated this election.”

She also confirmed that “no matter what, 100 per cent, I will remain leader of the Scottish Labour party”.

In a great night for her party, Ruth Davison won her seat in Edinburgh Central, making her the first Scottish Conservative leader not to need the list system to enter the Scottish Parliament  since 2005. The Tories also gained Aberdeen West from the SNP as well as their success in Dumfriesshire.

The Liberal Democrats also had a better-than-expected night. Their leader, Willie Rennie, took the Fife North East seat from the SNP, and his party also had comfortable holds in Orkney and Shetland.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.