1954 Harwich by-election


The 1954 Harwich by-election was a parliamentary by-election held on 11 February 1954 for the British House of Commons constituency of Harwich.

1954 Harwich by-election
← 1951 11 February 1954 1955 →

Harwich constituency
  First party Second party
Shirley Williams, 1984.jpg
Candidate Julian Ridsdale Shirley Catlin
Party National Liberal Labour
Popular vote 19,532 13,535
Percentage 59.1% 40.9%
Swing Increase0.2% Decrease0.2%

Boundary of the Harwich constituency in Essex

MP before election

Stanley Holmes
National Liberal

Elected MP

Julian Ridsdale
National Liberal

Background edit

Constituency edit

The seat consisted of the port town of Harwich, the seaside towns of Clacton-on-Sea, Brightlingsea, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze, and most of the primarily rural Tendring District.

Trigger edit

The seat had become vacant when the National Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Stanley Holmes was elevated to the peerage as Baron Dovercourt, having held the seat since the 1935 general election.

Candidates edit

National Liberal edit

The National Liberal party chose Julian Ridsdale, the nephew both of former Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Liberal MP Sir Aurelian Ridsdale as its candidate. He had contested Paddington North at the 1951 general election as the Conservative Party candidate.

Labour edit

In the autumn of 1952 the Harwich Labour party selected the 22 year old former chair of Oxford University Labour Club Shirley Catlin as its prospective candidate, after the only other candidate made it clear that he had no interest in running.[1]

Result edit

The Conservative and Liberal candidate, Julian Ridsdale held the seat for the government. He remained the constituency's MP until his retirement 38 years later at the 1992 general election. Shirley Catlin would later, under her married name Shirley Williams; be elected as MP for Hitchin and would serve in the Cabinets of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.[2]

1954 Harwich by-election[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
National Liberal Julian Ridsdale 19,532 59.1 +0.2
Labour Shirley Catlin 13,535 40.9 -0.2
Majority 5,997 18.2 +0.4
Turnout 33,067
National Liberal hold Swing

References edit

  1. ^ Shirley Williams Climbing The Bookshelves: Autobiography of Shirley Williams, Virago, 2009
  2. ^ "Baroness Williams of Crosby". Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  3. ^ "1954 By Election Results". Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2015.