Hamilton by-election, 1967

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hamilton by-election
Scotland
1966 ←
1967 → 1970

 
Candidate Winnie Ewing Alexander Wilson Ian Dyer
Party SNP Labour Conservative
Popular vote 18,397 16,598 4,986
Percentage 46.0% 41.5% 12.5%

MP before election

Tom Fraser
Labour

Subsequent MP

Winnie Ewing
SNP

The Hamilton by-election, which took place in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on 2 November 1967, was "the most sensational by-election result in Scotland since 1945"[1] and a "watershed" moment in Scottish political history.[2] The victory of the Scottish National Party's candidate Winnie Ewing over Labour the lawyer, her party and the cause of Scottish independence to national prominence for the first time.[citation needed]

Prior to 1967, the Hamilton parliamentary constituency was widely perceived to be an impregnable Labour party stronghold. As in many places in Labour's urban, working-class heartlands in the west of Scotland, it was said the Labour vote "is not counted here, it is weighed".[3] This made Ewing's victory - on a near-38% swing from Labour - all the more remarkable.

Until 1967, the SNP had struggled to make any significant, successful waves in national politics, remaining a largely small, fringe party. Although Robert McIntyre had become the SNP's first MP after winning the nearby Motherwell constituency in a by-election in 1945, Ewing was not expected to win in Hamilton in 1967. In the 1966 UK General Election, the SNP had not even fielded a candidate in Hamilton. The SNP's leadership merely told Ewing to "try to come a good second in order to encourage the members".[4] "As ever," Ewing later wrote, "I overdid it, and as a result my life changed for ever."[5]

A by-election was called after the former Labour MP, Tom Fraser, resigned in order to take up a better-paid position as head of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.[6] As his successor, Ewing held the seat until the 1970 UK General Election.

Ewing's win followed other breakthrough successes for nationalist parties in Britain - including Gwynfor Evans' similarly groundbreaking victory for Plaid Cymru at the Carmarthen by-election, 1966, a big advance for the SNP at the Pollok by-election, and big SNP gains in local elections, including becoming the largest party in local government in Stirling.[7]

Today, Ewing's victory is recognised as both historic and iconic.[citation needed] It is seen as heralding the start of a new era in Scottish politics in the campaign for Scottish independence was now a force to be reckoned with and as the catalyst for the rise of the SNP from a minor party of protest to a mainstream party of government.[8]

Ewing's first words to the crowd outside the count after her victory was declared - "Stop the World, Scotland wants to get on" - are among the most famous and most quoted ever to be uttered by a Scottish politician.[9]

Hamilton by-election, 1967[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SNP Winifred Ewing 18,397 46.0 +46.0
Labour Alexander Wilson 16,598 41.5 -29.7
Conservative Ian Dyer 4,986 12.5 -16.3
Majority 1,779
Turnout 39,981
SNP gain from Labour Swing 37.9

References[edit]

  1. ^ Devine, T. M. (2006). The Scottish nation, 1700-2007 (Reissued with new material. ed.). London: Penguin. p. 574. ISBN 978-0-141-02769-2. 
  2. ^ Isobel Lindsay, "The SNP and Westminster", pp. 93 - 104, in The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power, edited by Gerry Hassan, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, p. 94
  3. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/may/06/snp-scottish-election-scotland
  4. ^ Winnie Ewing, Stop the World, edited by Michael Russell, Birlinn: Edinburgh, 2004, p. 15
  5. ^ Winnie Ewing, Stop the World, edited by Michael Russell, Birlinn: Edinburgh, 2004, p. 15
  6. ^ Winnie Ewing, Stop the World, edited by Michael Russell, Birlinn: Edinburgh, 2004, p. 10
  7. ^ Christopher Harvie and Peter Jones, The road to home rule: images of Scotland's cause, p.84
  8. ^ Gerry Hassan, "The Making of the Modern SNP: From Protest to Power", pp. 1 - 18, in The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power, edited by Gerry Hassan, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, p. 1
  9. ^ Winnie Ewing, Stop the World, edited by Michael Russell, Birlinn: Edinburgh, 2004, p. 11
  10. ^ "1967 By Election Results". Archived from the original on 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 

See also[edit]