‘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, 24 April 2013

Anniversary of one of Churchill’s five defeats

For a hugely successful politician, Winston Churchill clocked up a significant number of electoral defeats, failing to be elected on 5 occasions. Today is the anniversary of one of them – at Manchester North West in 1908.

Churchill was first elected at Oldham in 1900 as a Conservative. He defected to the Liberals in 1904, but did not fight a by-election on his change of party allegiance. He remained MP for Oldham until the 1906 election, when he transferred to Manchester North West.

In 1908 he was appointed to the Board of Trade. The rules then in force required that newly-appointed ministers had to resign their seat and face re-election. Churchill faced his electorate on 24 April 1908 and lost.

Typically, Churchill bounced back and was found a seat at Dundee just two weeks later. He represented this seat until 1922, when he was again defeated. This time he had to wait two years to make a comeback – at Epping.

At the 1924 election, with a widespread fear of communism heightened by the Zinoviev letter, some hybrid Lib-Con candidates emerged, styling themselves Constitutionalists. Churchill was their most famous example, but in total there were ten. Seven won their seats. After the election they went their separate ways. Four of the victors re-took the Liberal whip and three (including Churchill) joined the Conservatives in the new parliament. The Constitutionalists’ electoral performance did not represent an electoral breakthrough, or the formation of a viable new party and the experiment was dropped.

Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Baldwin’s1924 government and his reintegration into the Conservative Party was complete.

In all, Churchill won 16 elections and only lost 5.

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