Knowsley North by-election, 1986

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The Knowsley North by-election, 1986 was a parliamentary by-election held on 13 November 1986 for the British House of Commons constituency of Knowsley North.

Labour retained the seat with well over half of the votes, while the SDP-Liberal Alliance finished runner-up by attracting more than a third of the votes. Although the Conservative government at the time was just months away from a third successive general election win, the Conservative candidate in this by-election attracted just over 6% of all votes - reflecting the Conservative Party's low popularity on Merseyside, which had some of the highest levels of unemployment in the United Kingdom largely due to the monetarist policies to tackle inflation.

Previous MP[edit]

The seat had become vacant on 1 October 1986. The constituency's Labour Member of Parliament (MP), Robert Kilroy-Silk (born 19 May 1942) resigned his seat to pursue a media career. He did this by being appointed Steward of the Manor of Northstead, a notional offices of profit under the Crown, which is used to permit MPs to vacate their seats.

Kilroy-Silk had been an MP since the February 1974 general election. The constituency he originally represented was Ormskirk. That seat disappeared in a redistribution and Kilroy-Silk moved to the new constituency of Knowsley North in 1983.

He returned to politics in 2004, becoming a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East Midlands, initially with the United Kingdom Independence Party.


Six 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 George Edward Howarth (born 29 June 1949). He was Chief Executive of the Wales Trades Union Congress Centre in Cardiff and had been deputy leader of Knowsley Borough Council 1982-1983.

He has been a Labour member of Parliament since the by-election in 1986, originally for Knowsley North until 1997, and then for its replacement Knowsley North and Sefton East, and since 2010, Knowsley.

2. The Liberal Party candidate, representing the SDP-Liberal Alliance, was Rosie Cooper. She had been a member of Liverpool City Council since 1973 and worked as a junior executive at Littlewoods. Cooper had contested the seat of Liverpool Garston in the 1983 general election. She represents West Lancashire.

3. The Conservative candidate was Roger Brown, a barrister born in 1951. He had been a member of Bury Borough Council from 1982 until 1986.

4. David Hallsworth stood for election as a candidate of the Revolutionary Communist Party led by Frank Furedi.

5. George Weiss, a frequent election candidate, was an Independent using the ballot paper label "Rainbow Alliance Captain Rainbows Universal Party".

6. Robert Cory was an Independent candidate.


1986 by-election: Knowsley North[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour George Howarth 17,403 56.3 -8.2
SDP–Liberal Alliance (Liberal) Rosie Cooper 10,679 34.6 +19.8 a
Conservative Roger Brown 1,960 6.3 -13.8
Revolutionary Communist David Hallsworth 664 2.1 N/A
Rainbow Dream Ticket George Weiss 111 0.4 N/A
Independent Robert Cory 88 0.3 N/A
Majority 6,724 21.7 -22.7
Turnout 30,905 57.3 -12.2
Labour hold Swing
Registered electors 53,921

Note a Change is calculated from the SDP candidate who represented the SDP-Liberal Alliance at the 1983 general election.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1983-87 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  • Britain Votes/Europe Votes By-Election Supplement 1983-, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Research Services 1985)