‘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, 26 June 2013

Forgotten Liberal by-election win in Birmingham

Today is the anniversary of The Liberals’ victory in the Birmingham Ladywood by-election of 1969. The victor was local campaigner, Wallace Lawler, who became the first Liberal MP for a seat in Birmingham since 1886.

Birmingham had had some famous Liberal MPs, including Joseph Chamberlain and John Bright and in 1885 all the Birmingham seats were won by Liberals. However, since the Liberal Unionist split over Irish Home Rule in 1886 no Liberal had been elected for one of the city’s seats.

Wallace Lawler regained a toe hold for the Liberals, but he only held the seat for just under a year until the 1970 general election, when Labour re-captured the seat. Since then the Liberal Democrats have made some progress in Birmingham, with Nicola Davies’s near miss in the 2004 Hodge Hill by-election by just 460 votes, followed by John Hemming’s capture of Birmingham Yardley, which he has held since 2005.

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