Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Central by-election, 1919

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The Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Central by-election was a parliamentary by-election held for the British House of Commons constituency of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Central on 16 April 1919.

Vacancy[edit]

The seat had become vacant when the Coalition Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Alexander Theodore Gordon died on 6 March 1919 aged just 37, from heart failure after suffering from influenza. He had held the seat only since the 1918 general election.

General Election 1918: Aberdeen and Kincardine Central [1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Lt-Col. Alexander Theodore Gordon 6,546 52.6
Liberal John McDonald Henderson 5,908 47.4
Majority 638 5.2
Turnout 12,454
Unionist hold Swing

Political background[edit]

According to reports in The Times, popular opinion was swinging against the coalition government of David Lloyd George and Andrew Bonar Law and the Independent, Asquithian Liberals were making the most of the government's popularity to revive.[2]

Candidates[edit]

Coalition[edit]

The Liberal candidate at the 1918 general election, John McDonald Henderson, who had been Liberal MP for West Aberdeenshire since 1906 [3] had only lost to Gordon by the narrow margin of 638 votes.[2] Henderson had been expected to be the Liberals' by-election candidate. In fact, because of Henderson's strong showing at the general election and the traditional strength of the Liberal Party in the area, the Coalition whips were apparently prepared to endorse him for the by-election, giving him the equivalent of coalition coupon which had been offered to authorised candidates at the 1918 general election. Henderson, no doubt eager to return to Parliament, and fully supported by the local Liberal Association, had reportedly made his peace with Freddie Guest, Lloyd George's Chief Whip. However the local Conservatives were not happy with this arrangement and decided to stand their own candidate, Mr L F W Davidson.[4] This situation proved depressing for the Coalition leaders and no 'coupon' was forthcoming for either Henderson or Davidson by the time the by-election writ was moved on 24 March.[5]

Liberal[edit]

Henderson further muddied the waters by standing down as Liberal candidate and the local Association turned instead to Major Murdoch McKenzie Wood, a barrister and former Gordon Highlander, who had unsuccessfully fought Ayr Burghs at the 1918 general election.[6] By the time the by-election campaigning was properly under way, the 'coupon', such as it was, had presumably been bestowed on Davidson as he was described in the election literature and the press as the Coalition Unionist or Coalition Conservative candidate.[6]

Labour[edit]

The contest was a three-cornered affair, with Joseph F. Duncan, the general secretary of the Scottish Farm Servants' Union, fighting the seat for Labour.[7]

The popularity of the Coalition[edit]

Duncan's candidacy was expected to complicate the possible outcome of the election by splitting the anti-Coalition vote.[8] In the event, this turned out to be the case but not by quite enough to deliver the seat to the Coalition candidate and Wood was returned to Parliament with a majority of 186 over Davidson. However the combined Liberal and Labour vote amounted to 63.9% of the poll and was clearly a severe blow to the Coalition, coming so soon after their overwhelming success in the 1918 general election and hard on the heels of other by-election defeats in Hull and Leyton West. As was pointed out in The Times, no Coalition seat could be considered safe given the temper of the electorate at the time and the Coalition coupon which had been a talisman for candidates a few short weeks before was turning into a curse.[9]

Result[edit]

Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Central by-election, 1919
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Murdoch McKenzie Wood 4,950 37.5 −9.9
Unionist Leybourne Francis Watson Davidson 4,764 36.1 -16.5
Labour Joseph Forbes Duncan 3,482 26.4 +26.4
Majority 186 1.4 6.6
Turnout 56.9
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing +3.3

Aftermath[edit]

General Election 1922

Electorate[10]

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Murdoch McKenzie Wood 9,779 60.1 +22.6
Unionist Robert Workman Smith 6,481 39.9 +3.8
Majority 3,298 20.2 +13.6
Turnout 16,260
Liberal hold Swing +6.8

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Times, 30 December 1918
  2. ^ a b The Times, London, 8 March 1919
  3. ^ The Times guide to the House of Commons Vol. 3, 1910-1918., London: Politico's Publishing 2004, p.108. ISBN 978-1-84275-034-6
  4. ^ The Times, London, 19 March 1919
  5. ^ The Times, London, 22 March 1919
  6. ^ a b The Times, London, 14 April 1919
  7. ^ The Times, London, 26 March 1919.
  8. ^ The Times, London, 15 April 1919
  9. ^ The Times, London, 1 May 1919.
  10. ^ The Times, 17 November 1922