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.