Newham South Bye Election 40 years on ..

16 May

The 23rd of May marks the 40th anniversary of the Newham South Bye Election. It is notable for two main reasons , firstly it was the only Bye Election of the 1974 short Parliament and secondly it was a major electoral coup for the National Front . The irony of a constituency with a similar sounding name going to the polls trying to get an electoral coup for a bunch of racists and petty nationalists is surely just coincidence.

Newham South was caused by the elevation ( if that’s the right way to look at it of Elwyn Jones, to the Lord Chancellorship and creating what was seen as a safe contest as Harold Wilson bumbled on in his minority administration. Labour chose ,

Labour chose a retread from the February 74 election and all other parties the same candidate as had stood in Newham South just weeks before.

The seat was in some ways a bellweather for the October election , Labour remaining where they were, The Liberals and Tories going ever so slightly backwards. All candidates bar the winner lost their deposit on a low turnout.
The interesting thing is that the seat gave the National Front its first ever finish ahead of a major party, in coming third they finished marginally ahead of the Conservative candidate. Luckily it didn’t herald any great electoral breakthrough for them although many of their potential supporters drifted to Thatcherism in 1979.


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