Coatbridge and Airdrie by-election, 1982

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The Coatbridge and Airdrie by-election, 1982 was a parliamentary by-election held on 24 June 1982 for the British House of Commons constituency of Coatbridge and Airdrie.

Previous MP[edit]

The seat fell vacant when the constituency's Labour Member of Parliament (MP), James Dempsey (6 February 1917 – 12 May 1982) died.

He was a clerk with a haulage firm and a councillor on Lanarkshire County Council from 1945. He later worked as a lecturer on political economy and a writer on local government.

Dempsey was Member of Parliament for Coatbridge and Airdrie from 1959.


Four candidates were nominated. The list below is set out in descending order of the number of votes received at the by-election.

1. Representing the Labour Party was Tom Clarke, born in Coatbridge on 10 January 1941.

He had been assistant director of the Scottish Council for Education Technology. He had become a deputy director of the Scottish Film Council, where he had written the synopses for the film library catalogue. He had also been president of the British Amateur Cinematographers Central Council (based in Epsom) and organised the Scottish International Amateur Film Festival. He became a councillor on the Coatbridge Town Council aged 23 in 1964 where he served until it was abolished in 1974, and then became a member for its replacement the Monklands District Council until he was elected to parliament in 1982.

As a result of a series of boundary changes Clarke has been MP for Coatbridge and Airdrie 1982 - 1983, for Monklands West 1983 - 1997, for Coatbridge and Chryston 1997 - 2005 and currently (in July 2008) for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill from 2005.

2. The Conservative nominee was H. de Burgh.

3. The Scottish National Party candidate was R. Wyllie. He also contested Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley in the 1983 general election.

4. The Liberal Party candidate, representing the SDP-Liberal Alliance, was A. Henderson.


General Election 1979: Coatbridge and Airdrie
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour James Dempsey 27,598 60.9
Conservative J. Love 12,442 27.5
SNP Mrs M. Johnston 3,652 10.5
Majority 15,156 33.4
Turnout 43,692 75.3
Labour hold Swing N/A
Registered electors 60,133
  • Death of James Dempsey
By-Election 24 June 1982: Coatbridge and Airdrie[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Tom Clarke 19,208 55.1 -5.8
Conservative H. de Burgh 9,118 26.2 -1.3
SNP R. Wyllie 3,652 10.5 -
Liberal A. Henderson 2,873 8.2 N/A
Majority 10,090 28.9 -4.5
Turnout 34,951 56.3 -19.0
Labour hold Swing
Registered electors 61,876


  1. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1979-83 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1974-1983, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Research Services 1984).
  • Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1979 and 1983 editions

See also[edit]