Colne Valley by-election, 1963

The Colne Valley by-election, 1963 was a parliamentary by-election for the British House of Commons constituency of Colne Valley on 21 March 1963.


The by-election was caused by the death of the sitting Labour MP, Glenvil Hall on 13 October 1962. He had been MP here since holding the seat in 1939.

Election History

Colne Valley had been won by Labour at every election since 1935 when they gained the seat from the Liberals. The result at the last General election was as follows;

General Election 1959 Electorate
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Rt Hon. William George Glenvil Hall 19,284 44.3
Conservative Christopher J. Barr 13,030 29.9
Liberal Richard Scurrah Wainwright 11,254 25.8 N/A
Majority 6,254 14.4
Turnout 84.1
Labour hold Swing


Labour selected 43-year-old Patrick Duffy. He contested Tiverton in 1950, 1951 and 1955. He was a Lecturer at Leeds University from 1950-63. He was educated at the London School of Economics and Columbia University, New York City.[1]

The Conservatives selected 28-year-old outsider, Andrew C. Alexander, a journalist and leader writer. He was educated at Lancing College. A former member of Dorchester Borough Council. A past chairman of North Kensington Young Conservatives and Dorchester Young Conservatives.[2]

The Liberals re-selected 44-year-old Leeds man, Richard Wainwright. He contested Pudsey in 1950 and 1955 and Colne Valley in 1959. A chartered accountant. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Clare College, Cambridge. He was a Member of the Liberal Party Committee and Council; and was chairman of the Liberal Party Organization Department from 1955-57.[3]

An independent candidate, A. Fox, also stood.

174 people serving in the Armed Forces applied for nomination papers, as it was usual practice at the time that any serving personnel doing so would be given an honourable discharge. However, unlike by-elections late the previous year, none of the candidates paid a deposit and so they secured their release without appearing on the ballot paper.[4]

Main Issues and Campaign

It was a long campaign, with polling day not taking place until 5 months after the death of the previous MP. The main themes of Wainwright's Liberal campaign were; State pensions tied to cost of living index, create a new Ministry of Employment and no more Nationalisation.[5]


The Labour vote share held while the Liberals gained support at the expense of the Conservatives. Significantly, Wainwright had managed to push the Conservative into third place.

Colne Valley by-election, 1963[6] Electorate 51,397
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Albert Edward Patrick Duffy 18,033 44.5 +0.2
Liberal Richard Scurrah Wainwright 15,994 39.5 +13.7
Conservative Andrew C. Alexander 6,238 15.4 -14.5
Independent A. Fox 266 0.6 n/a
Majority 2,039 5.0
Turnout 40,531 78.9
Labour hold Swing -6.8


All three main party candidates did battle again at the following General Election. Wainwright further closed the gap on the Labour party. The result at the 1964 General election;

General Election 1964 Electorate 52,006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Albert Edward Patrick Duffy 18,537 42.0 -2.5
Liberal Richard Scurrah Wainwright 18,350 41.6 +2.1
Conservative Andrew C. Alexander 7,207 16.3 +0.9
Majority 187 0.4 -4.6
Turnout 44,094 84.8
Labour hold Swing -2.3

Wainwright eventually defeated Duffy at the 1966 General Election.


  1. The Times House of Commons 1964
  2. The Times House of Commons 1964
  3. The Times House of Commons 1964
  4. D. Leonard and R. Mortimore, Elections in Britain: A Voter's Guide, pp.85-86
  5. Wainwright's election material
  6. "1963 By Election Results". Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2015-08-17.

See also

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