The winner, Kate Hoey, was Minister for Sport in Tony Blair's Labour government from 1999-2001 before returning to the backbenches.
The 1989 by-election was caused by Stuart Holland's resignation to take up an academic job in preference to remaining in the Labour Party. Kate Hoey was shortlisted for the seat against the wishes of many left-wing local Labour activists who wanted Nigerian-born Martha Osamor.
The by-election was contested by 14 candidates: one of the longest lists of serious candidates at any by-election in the 1980s. Don Milligan stood as the candidate of the Revolutionary Communist Party and made the struggle for gay equality the centrepiece of his campaign. Rev Hewie Andrew stood as "The People's Candidate", out of protest at the Labour Party's selection process for their candidate. There were two "Green" candidates: Henry Bewley (who represented the Green Party officially, and Dominic Allen (sponsored by a religious cult) who used the title "The Greens". This was the first time the Green Party saved its deposit in a UK Parliamentary election. There were two National Front candidates, from their warring "Official" and "Flag" factions.
At close of nominations, there had been 15 contenders, with rival candidates for the 'Social & Liberal Democrats' and 'Continuing Social Democratic Party'. However, the SDP candidate, Tom Edwards, withdrew his candidature before the notice of poll.