Orpington by-election, 1962
The election was caused by the appointment of Donald Sumner, Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Orpington as a County Court Judge. The appointment was generally thought to be making way for Peter Goldman, who had worked with Ian Macleod on the Conservatives' previous election manifesto.
In the UK general election, 1959, the Conservatives had easily won the seat, one which they had held since its creation in 1945. Labour and the Liberals each picked up just over 20% of the vote. Commentators expected Goldman to achieve a comfortable victory.
The Liberal Party had reached its lowest ebb in the UK general election, 1951, winning just 2.5% of the vote nationally, and gaining only six MPs. Signs of a revival were not seen until they won the 1958 Torrington by-election, their first gain at a by-election since Holland with Boston in 1929. However, they lost Torrington at the 1959 general election, and despite increasing their share of the vote to 5.9%, they could not progress beyond six MPs. After the general election, their revival continued, and they took second place in several by-elections.
The Liberals initially planned to put forward their candidate from the 1959 election, Jack Galloway, but after it was revealed that he had been technically guilty of bigamy, local councillor Eric Lubbock was selected as their candidate.
During the campaign, Goldman attracted criticism for living outside the constituency, and admitting he had no plans to move into it. The Conservative government was forced to announce a pay freeze for public sector workers, which was seen as particularly hitting nurses. It damaged their standing in the national polls, but particularly Goldman, who was closely associated with the Exchequer.
The by-election was held on 14 March 1962. Despite the Conservatives' troubles, the nearly 22% swing from them to the Liberals surprised most analysts. Lubbock won a 7,855 vote majority, and went on to hold the seat until 1970. This surprise win boosted the Liberals in the polls. However, they did not secure any further seats during the parliament, and their resurgence proved gradual.
|Orpington by-election, 1962|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||+26.3|
|General Election 1959: Orpington|
|Labour||N. J. Hart||9,543||22.2||-5.4|
- By-elections in British Politics ed. C.Cook & J.Ramsden, UCL Press, 1997
- "BBC ON THIS DAY | 15 | 1962: Liberals seize Orpington". BBC News. 15 March 1990. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- British Parliamentary By Elections: Liberal Party campaign literature from the by-election
- Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources
- Liberal Democrat History Group: Fighting Orpington
- The Times: You lucky people
- BBC: Triumphs and Disasters