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25 July 2008

10 worst by-elections

In the wake of Labour's shock Glasgow East defeat to the SNP we look at some of the worst by-electio

By Syed Hamad Ali

1962 Tory Party lose the by-election in Orpington to the Liberals. It was the first seat the Conservative government lost since the general election back in 1959. “We must not stop in our efforts to over-throw Tory blunder” said the winning Liberal candidate Eric Lubbock.

1967 “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.” With these famous words, prominent SNP politician Winifred Ewing took the Labour strong hold of Hamilton and set a new era for Scottish nationalism.

1968 The Conservatives take three seats in a single day, potentially a historic first for such as achievement. One of the wins was in Dudley where the Tories enjoyed a 21 per cent win.

1973 This particular by-election in Lincoln was caused by the resignation of the local Labour MP Dick Taverne. He ran on a Democratic Labour ticket in protest at the leftwards and anti-European stances of his local party. He went on to beat his former comrades in the by-election he triggered. Alas, victory was to be short lived for Labour took back its seat in the following year.

1977 In an extremely narrow electoral win, with a margin of just 264 votes over Labour , the Tories take Ashfield.

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1983 Current Liberal Democrat President Simon Hughes won the Bermondsey by-election with the then greatest margin since the Second World War of 44 per cent.

1994 Labour win the Dudley seat following the death of the local Conservative MP. It should be recalled that back in the 1968 the Dudley by-election it had been the Tories who booted out Labour.

1997 Wirral South is the scene of another Labour party by-election win. Two months later it would be the start of a legacy as Mr. Blair moved into Downing Street.

2003 Labour loses out to the Liberal Democrats in Brent East. This was the party’s first Commons by-election defeat since coming to power. Perhaps an indicator of things to come?

2008 In what has perhaps been the worst year for Labour in recent times, with the Tories enjoying a new found popularity, the SNP takes the Glasgow East seat. “There are no safe seats for the Labour Party,” says the jubilant SNP leader and First Minister for Scotland, Alex Salmond.