Westhoughton by-election, 1951


Westhoughton by-election, 1951

The Westhoughton by-election took place on June 21, 1951. The contest followed the resignation of the sitting Labour Party member of parliament, Rhys Davies.

In April 1951 Davies, who had held the Westhoughton constituency in south Lancashire for thirty years, announced that he would not be standing for parliament again. At the time he was Labour's longest serving MP. ["MP not to seek re-election", The Times, April 10, 1951, p.7] He subsequently resigned from the Commons due to ill health, and the writ to hold a byelection to fill the vacancy was moved on May 31. ["House Of Commons", The Times, June 1, 1951, p. 4] At the time of Davies's resignation, the Labour Party held a slim majority of only five seats, following the 1950 general election. Davies had secured a majority of nearly 12,000 votes over the Conservatives in 1950.

Nominations for the byelection closed on June 12, and there were only two candidates: J T "Tom" Price, the forty-eight year old chief legal officer of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers for the Labour Party; and Frank J Land, a thirty-eight year old master baker from Bolton for the Conservatives."The Westhoughton By-Election, No Hint Of Third Candidate", The Times, June 5, 1951, p.3]

Tom Price belonged to the same trades union as Davies, and had strong connections with south Lancashire. Land was a member of the Bolton Chamber of Trade, and vice-chairman of Bolton Young Conservatives. On June 14, Winston Churchill, Conservative leader, issued a statement in support of Land and attacking the Labour government who he balmed for the fall in the value of the pound. ["Labour Blamed For Fall In Pound - Mr. Churchill's Message To Westhoughton", The Times, June 15, 1951, p.7] Price campaigned on the record of the Labour government, claiming it had done a great deal to improve the life of ordinary people. Land called for and end to nationalisation of industries, claiming this led to higher prices. Both candidates supported a programme of building large numbers of council houses. ["Candidates' Claims At Westhoughton - By-Election Addresses", The Times, June 16, 1951, p. 3]

Results

Price retained the seat comfortably for the government, although with a reduced majority:"Government Retain Westhoughton, Mr. J. T. Price Elected", The Times June 22, 1951, p.6]

Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = J T Price
votes = 25,368
percentage = 60.4
change = -1.8
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = F J Land
votes = 16,614
percentage = 39.6
change = +1.8
Election box majority
votes = 8,754
percentage = 20.8
change = -1.0
Election box hold with party link
winner = Labour Party (UK)
swing = -1.8

References


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