Westminster Abbey (UK Parliament constituency)

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Westminster Abbey
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
19181950
Number of members One
Replaced by Cities of London and Westminster
Created from Strand and Westminster

Westminster Abbey was a constituency in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons by the first past the post system of election.

It was created at the 1918 general election, replacing the former constituency of Westminster, and abolished at the 1950 general election, when it was merged with the former two-seat City of London constituency to form the new single-member seat of Cities of London and Westminster.

The seat was sometimes known as the Abbey Division of Westminster or simply Abbey. It was held by the Conservative Party for its entire existence.

Boundaries[edit]

Abbey in the Parliamentary County of London, showing boundaries used from 1918 to 1950.

The City of Westminster is a district of Inner London. Its southern boundary is on the north bank of the River Thames. In 1918 it was to the west of the City of London, to the south of Holborn and St. Pancras and to the east of Kensington and Chelsea. It consisted of the eastern part of the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster, comprising the then wards of Covent Garden, Great Marlborough, Pall Mall, Regent, St. Anne, St. John, St. Margaret, Strand and part of Charing Cross.

History[edit]

The constituency was created in 1918 from the former seats of Westminster & Strand. From 1918 to 1950, it returned five Conservative MPs, with Labour and the Liberals having little support in the area.

After William Burdett-Coutts, the first MP for the seat, died in 1921 there was a by-election where all three candidates claimed to be anti-waste. At the time the Anti-Waste League was active. It was formed to advance the political ambitions of the newspaper owner Lord Rothermere. The objects of the League were to insist upon measures being taken to restore the country to solvency, urge a wholesale reduction of expenditure, fight the battle of local rates and oppose sham Anti-Waste candidates. The Conservative candidate John Nicholson won the election, but the Anti-Waste League (whose candidate later became a Conservative MP) polled respectably and the Liberal candidate (a former MP) came third.

After Nicholson's death in 1924 a further by-election took place. The new Conservative candidate Otho Nicholson was challenged by the very prominent politician Winston Churchill as a Constitutionalist, the formidable Labour stalwart and future MP Fenner Brockway and an unknown Liberal. The Constitutionalist label was one used by a number of candidates, mostly ex-Liberals like Churchill, in the 1920s. The Constitutionalists did not function as a party and many of them ended up in the Conservative Party. Nicholson beat Churchill with a very small majority of 43.

By the 1945 general election, the electorate of the area had dropped by almost half since the pre-war by-election. Labour almost equalled the 27% vote Brockway had received in 1924. The Independent Progressive candidate of 1939 reappeared as a Communist candidate and received 17.6% of the vote. The Conservatives still had an absolute majority of the vote. For the 1950 general election, the seat became the central part of the new constituency of Cities of London and Westminster.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member Party
1918 William Burdett-Coutts Conservative
1921 by-election John Nicholson Conservative
1924 by-election Otho Nicholson Conservative
1932 by-election Sir Sidney Herbert Conservative
1939 by-election Harold Webbe Conservative

Elections[edit]

1910s[edit]

General Election, 14 December 1918
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Coalition Conservative William Burdett-Coutts Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A

1920s[edit]

By-Election, 25 August 1921
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Nicholson[1] 6,204 43.6 N/A
Anti-Waste League Reginald Applin[1] 5,874 34.9 N/A
Liberal Arnold Lupton[1] 3,053 21.5 N/A
Majority 1,234 8.7 N/A
Turnout 36,952 38.5 N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Sydney Drury-Lowe
General Election, 15 November 1922
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Nicholson 13,620 75.6 +32.0
Labour Joseph Butler 2,454 13.6 +13.6
Independent Sydney Drury-Lowe 1,950 10.8 +10.8
Majority 11,166 62.0 +53.3
Turnout 36,763 49.0 +10.5
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election, 6 December 1923
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Nicholson Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
By-Election, 19 March 1924
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Otho Nicholson 8,187 35.9 N/A
Constitutionalist Winston Churchill 8,144 35.8 N/A
Labour Fenner Brockway 6,156 27.0 N/A
Liberal John Scott Duckers 291 1.3 N/A
Majority 43 0.1 N/A
Turnout 36,999 61.6 N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election, 29 October 1924
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Otho Nicholson 17,915 80.6 +44.7
Labour Arthur Woolf 4,308 19.4 -7.6
Majority 13,607 61.2 +61.1
Turnout 38,069 58.4 -3.2
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election, 30 May 1929
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Otho Nicholson 18,195 74.0 -6.6
Labour James MacDonnell 6,406 26.0 +6.6
Majority 11,789 48.0 -13.2
Turnout 48,524 50.7 -7.7
Conservative hold Swing -6.6

1930s[edit]

General Election, 27 October 1931
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Otho Nicholson Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
By-Election, 12 July 1932
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sidney Herbert Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election, 14 November 1935
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sidney Herbert 18,117 77.5 N/A
Labour William S. Kennedy 5,255 22.5 N/A
Majority 12,862 55.0 N/A
Turnout 47,538 49.2 N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
By-Election, 17 May 1939
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Harold Webbe 9,678 67.4 -10.1
Independent Progressive Dr G. Billy Carritt 4,674 32.6 N/A
Majority 5,004 34.8 -20.2
Turnout 47,396 30.3 -18.9
Conservative hold Swing N/A

1940s[edit]

General Election, 5 July 1945
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Harold Webbe 9,160 54.4 -23.1
Labour Jeremy Hutchinson 4,408 26.1 +3.6
Communist Dr G. Billy Carritt 2,964 17.6 N/A
Democratic Norman Leith-Hay-Clark 326 1.9 N/A
Majority 4,752 28.3 -6.5
Turnout 28,823 58.5 +28.2
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c All three candidates claimed to be anti waste: Nicholson stood as "Constitutional and Independent Conservative Anti-Waste", while Lupton stood as "Independent Liberal and Anti-Waste".Morgan, Kenneth O (1986). Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922. Oxford University Press. p. 245. 

References[edit]