1929 Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election


The 1929 Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election was a parliamentary by-election held in Scotland on 29 January 1929 to elect a new Member of Parliament (MP) for the House of Commons constituency of Midlothian and Peebles Northern.

It was the first election to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to be contested by a candidate for a Scottish nationalist party.


The vacancy was caused by the death in December 1928[1] of the constituency's Unionist MP, Sir George Hutchison. He had held the seat from 1922 to 1923 and from 1924 until his death.[2]

Previous resultEdit

General election 1924: Midlothian and Peebles Northern[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative George Hutchison 11,320 55.2
Labour Andrew Clarke 9,173 44.8
Majority 2,147 10.4
Turnout 20,493
Conservative hold Swing


Four candidates were nominated.

The Labour Party nominated Andrew Clarke, who had held the seat from 1923 to 1924. The Conservatives nominated the industrialist John Colville, who had been the National Liberal candidate for Motherwell in 1922.

The local Liberal association selected 23-year-old David Edwin Keir as their candidate. He was the son of the Rev. T. Keir of Dumfries. He was educated at Dumfries Academy and the University of Edinburgh.[4]

The fourth candidate was the journalist and folklorist Lewis Spence of the National Party of Scotland, who was the first nationalist to contest a parliamentary seat in Scotland.


The result was a victory for the Labour Party candidate, Andrew Clarke,[5] who took the seat with a slightly lower share of the vote than in his defeat in 1924, when there had been only two candidates.[2]

With only 4.5% of the votes, Spence lost his £150 deposit.[2]

By-election Jan 1929: Midlothian and Peebles Northern[2][6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Andrew Clarke 7,917 42.0 +2.8
Conservative John Colville 6,965 36.9 −18.3
Liberal David Edwin Keir 3,130 16.6 New
National (Scotland) Lewis Spence 842 4.5 New
Majority 952 5.1 N/A
Turnout 18,854
Labour gain from Conservative Swing


Clarke's victory was short-lived. At the general election on 30 May 1929, Colville won the seat, and although Clarke stood again in 1931, the by-election victory was his last electoral success.

Colville held the seat for fourteen years, holding a variety of ministerial posts, and left Parliament in 1943 to become Governor of Bombay, triggering another by-election. He was ennobled in 1948 as Baron Clydesmuir.


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "M" (part 2)
  2. ^ a b c d Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 638. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  3. ^ Oliver & Boyd's Edinburgh Almanac, 1927
  4. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1929
  5. ^ "No. 33462". The London Gazette. 1 February 1929. p. 766.
  6. ^ The Times, 31 January 1929

See alsoEdit