1985 Tyne Bridge by-election

The Tyne Bridge by-election, 1985 was a parliamentary by-election held on 5 December 1985 for the British House of Commons constituency of Tyne Bridge.

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The seat fell vacant when the constituency's Labour Member of Parliament (MP), Harry Lowes Cowans (19 December 1932 – 3 October 1985) died.

Cowans was elected MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central at a 1976 by-election. After boundary changes, he was elected for Tyne Bridge in 1983 general election.


Six candidates were nominated. The list below is set out in descending order of the number of votes received at the by-election.

1. Representing the Labour Party was David Gordon Clelland (born 27 June 1943), who was 42 years old at the time of the by-election. He was a member of the Engineering Union, who had worked on the shop floor for 22 years before being made redundant. He was secretary of a local government association and was leader of Gateshead Council at the time of the by-election.

Clelland was the Member of Parliament for Tyne Bridge until 2010.

2. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, representing the SDP-Liberal Alliance, was Rod Kenyon. He was a Personnel Manager for Northern Gas and was aged 40 at the time of the by-election. He had contested the seat of Houghton and Washington in the 1983 general election.

3. The Conservative candidate was Mrs. Jacqueline Anne "Jacqui" Lait (born on 16 December 1947), a then 37-year-old with a Westminster and European Parliamentary Consultancy.

Since 1985 Mrs. Lait has served in the House of Commons, first representing Hastings and Rye from 1992 until she was defeated in the 1997 general election. She was then returned, at a by-election later in 1997, as MP for Beckenham, which she represented until 2010.

4. John Connell was an Independent, using the ballot paper label "Peace Candidate".

5. George Weiss (born 1940) was another Independent candidate, using the ballot paper label "Captain Rainbow Universal Party (Abolish Parliament)".

6. Peter Reid Smith was nominated with the description "New National". During the campaign he admitted that he had forged the signatures of the ten electors needed on his nomination papers;[1] he was subsequently charged with forgery.[2]


1985 by-election: Tyne Bridge[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour David Clelland 13,517 57.8 +1.3
Social Democratic Rod Kenyon 6,942 29.7 +11.4 a
Conservative Jacqui Lait 2,588 11.1 -14.1
Independent John Connell 250 1.1 N/A
Independent George Weiss 38 0.2 N/A
Independent Peter Smith 32 0.1 N/A
Majority 6,575 28.1
Turnout 23,367 38.1 -23.4
Labour hold Swing
Registered electors 61,400


  • a Change from the Liberal candidate who represented the SDP-Liberal Alliance in the 1983 general election.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hetherington, Peter (27 November 1985). "Full SDP effort for Tyne poll". The Guardian. p. 2.
  2. ^ Hetherington, Peter (5 December 1985). "Candidate with polish scents labour victory". The Guardian. p. 5.
  3. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1983-87 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 2015-09-19.


  • Britain Votes/Europe Votes By-Election Supplement 1983-, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Research Services 1985)