Today is the 70th anniversary of the Skipton by-election of 1944. The by-election was held under the terms of the wartime electoral truce. The three main parties had agreed not to stand against each other in by-elections. However, this did not prevent seats being lost, especially by the Conservative Party, mainly to independent candidates.
However, Skipton was the second of three wartime victories for Common Wealth, a left wing party founded in 1942. They had won Eddisbury in 1943 and went on to win Chelmsford in 1945. All three victories were at the expense of the Conservatives.
The successes of Common Wealth could be seen as an indication that the electorate had embraced more egalitarian policies during the war, as was eventually shown in the 1945 general election victory for the Labour Party.
The results also reflected the fact that the Conservatives had interpreted the wartime truce to include the abandonment of most policy-making and political activity such as conferences. The Labour Party stuck to the letter of the truce, but carried on most activities, including holding conferences. The Liberals took a stance in between the other two.
Only Chelmsford was held by Common Wealth at the 1945 general election and many of the party’s key figures eventually joined the Labour Party, including Hugh Lawson, the 1944 victor at Skipton.