‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Torrington by-election victor walked 500 miles

Today is the anniversary of the Torrington by-election of 1958. It was the first post-war Liberal by-election victory and the first time the party had captured a new seat at a by-election since 1929.

The by-election occurred when the Liberal Party was at its lowest ever representation in the House of Commons, with just five MPs. At the previous general election in 1955, the Liberals had won six seats, but one of the MPs, Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, died in 1956 and the party lost the at seat at Carmarthen in the resulting by-election.

Torrington was won by Mark Bonham Carter, Asquith’s grandson and brother-in-law of party leader, Jo Grimond. Bonham Carter would have been well-prepared for the campaign as he had (according to the Dictionary of Liberal Biography) walked 500 miles after he escaped from a prison camp in Italy during the war. Talk about sore feet - campaigners today just don’t realise how easy life is!

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