1984 Chesterfield by-election

The Chesterfield by-election, 1984 was held on 1 March 1984 for a seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom to represent Chesterfield in Derbyshire. This followed the resignation of the sitting Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Eric Varley.

1984 Chesterfield by-election

← 1983 1 March 1984 1987 →

Chesterfield constituency
  First party Second party Third party
  Tony Benn 1967.jpg Blank Nick-bourne-580x358 (cropped).png
Candidate Tony Benn Max Payne Nick Bourne
Party Labour Liberal Conservative
Popular vote 24,633 18,369 8,028
Percentage 46.5% 34.7% 15.2%
Swing Decrease1.6% Increase15.1% Decrease17.3%

MP before election

Eric Varley

Elected MP

Tony Benn

The eventual winner, former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn (who had been ousted from parliament at the general election nine months earlier) defeated sixteen other candidates, at the time the largest fielded in a British by-election — surpassing the previous high of twelve, at the 1981 Croydon North West by-election. This record would remain unbroken until the 1993 Newbury by-election.

At the time, there was no requirement for political parties fielding candidates to be registered, resulting in some fringe candidates using slogans or frivolous titles as their party name. Actor Bill Maynard finished in fourth place, standing as an "independent Labour" supporter who opposed Benn's candidacy. Other candidates included: John Davey, who ran in opposition to increases in the charges for NHS dentistry, Helen Anscomb, a by-election veteran who called for freight to be transported by rail to improve road safety, Donald Butler, a furniture shop owner who adopted the slogan "a Chesterfield for Chesterfield", Giancarlo Piccaro stood for the 'Official Acne Party', pretending to be dedicated to the eradication of zits worldwide, T. A. Layton stood in the name of the "Spare the Earth Ecology Party", which he had founded, and David Cahill campaigned for The Sun to be treated as a comic.[1]

Chesterfield was Benn's fourth by-election victory. He had first entered Parliament at the 1950 Bristol South East by-election and held that seat until he was disqualified from the Commons in 1960, when he inherited a peerage, as Viscount Stansgate, upon his father's death. At the resulting Bristol South East by-election 1961, he won with an increased majority of votes, but because he was ineligible to take his seat, the Conservative candidate Malcolm St Clair was declared elected. When the law was changed to allow peerages to be renounced, St Clair resigned the seat and Benn won the Bristol South East by-election 1963.


Chesterfield by-election, 1984[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Tony Benn 24,633 46.5 -1.6
Liberal Max Payne 18,369 34.7 +15.1
Conservative Nick Bourne 8,028 15.2 -17.3
Independent Labour Bill Maynard 1,355 2.6 New
Monster Raving Loony David Sutch 178 0.3 New
Four-wheel drive Hatchback Road Safety David Bentley 116 0.2 New
Independent John Davey 83 0.3 New
Independent Ecology Party Thomas Layton 46 0.1 New
Independent - Freight on rails not roads Helen Anscomb 34 0.1 New
Yoga and Meditation Jitendra Bardwaj 33 0.1 New
Independent - Buy your Chesterfield in Thame Party Donald Butler 24 0.1 New
The Welshman Paul Nicholls-Jones 22 0.0 New
Elvisly Yours Elvis Presley Party Sid Shaw 20 0.0 New
I am not a number Christopher Hill 17 0.0 New
Acne Party Giancarlo Piccaro 15 0.0 New
Re-classify The Sun newspaper a comic David Cahill 12 0.0 New
Peace John Connell 7 0.0 New
Majority 6,264 11.8 −3.8
Turnout 52,992 76.9 +4.3
Labour hold Swing

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ALDRIDGE-BROWNHILLS to LEEDS, WEST, 1983 to 1997 election results[permanent dead link] at election.demon.co.uk
  2. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1983-87 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2015.