Darlington by-election, 1983

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The Darlington by-election, 1983 was a parliamentary by-election held on 24 March 1983 for the British House of Commons constituency of Darlington in County Durham.

The seat had become vacant when the constituency's Labour Member of Parliament (MP), Edward Fletcher had died on 13 February 1983, a few days before his 72nd birthday. He had held the seat since the 1964 general election.

The result of the contest was a victory for the Labour candidate, Oswald O'Brien, who won with a majority of 2,412 over the Conservative Party candidate Michael Fallon. O'Brien only held the seat for three months, however, as it fell to Fallon at the general election in June 1983. The race is regarded among many former SDP members, including Bill Rodgers, as having been the race that destroyed the SDP's momentum. Tony Cook, a local television celebrity was the candidate and appeared to know very little about public issues and made a poor impression. At one point the SDP had been leading in the polls, but in part due to Cook's poor performance as a candidate, highlighted by the coverage from journalist Vincent Hanna, they finished third.


Darlington by-election, 1983[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Oswald O'Brien 20,544 39.5 −6.0
Conservative Michael Fallon 18,132 34.9 −8.5
Social Democratic Anthony Cook 12,735 24.5 +14.3
Monster Raving Loony David Sutch 374 0.7 N/A
Independent Arthur Clark 164 0.3 N/A
Tactical Voting Annihilates Bennite Tatchellites Thomas Keen 27 0.1 N/A
Yoga and Meditation Jitendra Bardwaj 15 0.0 N/A
Republican Peter Smith 10 0.0 N/A
Majority 2,412 4.6 +2.5
Turnout 52,001
Labour hold Swing +1.25%
General election, 1979: Darlington
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edward Fletcher 22,565 45.52 +0.03
Conservative Timothy Kirkhope 21,513 43.39 +5.77
Liberal K. Walker 5,054 10.19 −6.44
National Front H. Outhwaite 444 0.90 N/A
Majority 1,052 2.12 −5.81
Turnout 49,576 78.4 +13.43
Labour hold Swing −2.82

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1979-83 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 2015-09-19.