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1919 Spen Valley by-election

  (Redirected from Spen Valley by-election, 1919)

The Spen Valley by-election of 1919 was held on 20 December 1919. The by-election was held after the death of the incumbent Coalition Liberal MP, Thomas Whittaker. It was won by the Labour candidate, Tom Myers,[1] who had contested the constituency at the 1918 general election.

The poll came at the same time as a serious split in the Liberal Party over continuing support for the coalition government: Colonel B C Fairfax was nominated as the Coalition Liberal candidate, and Sir John Simon stood as an Independent Liberal.[2] The poll was held on 20 December 1919, but the votes were not counted until 3 January 1920.[2] The result was seen as sensational, with The Times describing it as a "political event of great significance", with voters deserting the government candidate in "a humiliation which cannot be explained away".[3]

In the view of Maurice Cowling, Simon's defeat by Labour marked the point at which Labour began to be seen as a serious threat by the older parties.

Tom Myers
Sir John Simon
Spen Valley by-election, 1919 [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Tom Myers 11,962 39.4 –5.0
Liberal John Simon 10,244 33.8 21.8
Coalition Liberal Bryan Charles Fairfax 8,134 26.8 n/a
Majority 1,718 5.6 26.8
Turnout 76.5 +27.1
Labour gain from Liberal Swing +13.4


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Spen Valley's Verdict. A Blow To The Coalition, Labour Member Returned, Sir J. Simon's Big Poll". The Times. 5 January 1920. p. 13.
  3. ^ "The Parting of the Ways. Mr Lloyd-George's Two Courses". The Times. 5 January 1920. p. 13.
  4. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, FWS Craig