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Birmingham Stechford by-election, 1977

The Birmingham Stechford by-election, in Birmingham, on 31 March 1977 was held after Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Jenkins resigned his seat following his appointment as President of the European Commission. A seat that had been solidly Labour since its formation in 1950, it was won by Andrew MacKay of the Conservative Party, before being regained by Labour in 1979. The by-election was noted for the strong performance of the National Front candidate and the presence of two far left candidates.[1]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

As a leading Labour sitting MP Roy Jenkins had hoped to become Foreign Secretary in the government of James Callaghan but was overlooked in favour of Anthony Crosland.[2] Following this Jenkins was nominated as President of the European Commission in succession to François-Xavier Ortoli, a move which necessitated his departure from Parliament.

CandidatesEdit

With the seat being solid Labour Party territory the by-election presented the possibility of a return to Parliament for Terry Davis, who had served as member for the defunct Bromsgrove seat from 1970 until its abolition in 1974. Davis however failed to take the seat and began a pattern for the ailing Labour government who also lost the next by-election in Ashfield when David Marquand followed Jenkins to a role in the Commission.[3]

It also left the governing Labour Party without a majority and resulted in a vote of no confidence being issued, although the government won and was able to cling onto power by forming a pact with the Liberals.[4]

The Conservative candidate Andrew MacKay won the election with a majority of nearly 2000, although ultimately he would only hold the seat until 1979 when it was regained for Labour.[5] MacKay would go on to enjoy a long parliamentary career representing a number of constituencies.

The Liberal Party candidate was Graham Gopsill, a Birmingham councillor who finished the by-election in a lowly fourth place. Gopsill would later serve the Liberal Democrats in Droitwich Spa until his death in 2009.[6] He was beaten into fourth by National Front candidate Andrew Brons, a veteran of a number of far right movements and member of the NF National Directorate who eventually became NF chairman in 1980.[7] Other candidates to appear on the ballot were leftist duo Brian Heron of the International Marxist Group and journalist Paul Foot for the Socialist Alliance.

ResultsEdit

Birmingham Stechford by-election, 1977[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Andrew MacKay 15,731 43.4 +15.6
Labour Terry Davis 13,782 38.0 -19.6
National Front Andrew Brons 2,955 8.2 N/A
Liberal Graham Gopsill 2,901 8.0 -6.4
International Marxist Brian Heron 494 1.4 N/A
Socialist Alliance Paul Foot 377 1.0 N/A
Majority 1,949 5.4 +12.3
Turnout 36,240
Conservative gain from Labour Swing
General Election October 1974: Birmingham Stechford
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Roy Jenkins 23,075 57.6 +4.5
Conservative D. Wedgwood 11,152 27.8 -2.4
Liberal Graham Gopsill 5,860 14.6 -1.4
Majority 11,923 29.7 +6.9
Turnout 40,087 64.1 -1.7
Labour hold Swing

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Full results Archived 12 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Rosen, Greg (2001) Dictionary of Labour Biography, Politicos, p. 318
  3. ^ 1977 by-elections Archived 12 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ BBC News
  5. ^ 1979 results
  6. ^ Obituary from local Liberal Democrats site Archived 2 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Duncan Campbell, 'Andrew Brons, the genteel face of neo-fascism', The Guardian 8 June 2009
  8. ^ "1977 By Election Results". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 17 September 2015.