Leeds Central by-election, 1999

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The Member of Parliament for Leeds Central, Rt. Hon. Derek Fatchett, (Labour) died suddenly on 9 May 1999. The Labour Party rushed to organise for the by-election and moved the writ so that the election could be held on 10 June, the same day as elections to the European Parliament.

The shortlist for the Labour candidacy included the Chair of Leeds Central Constituency Labour Party, Maggie Giles-Hill, and Shahid Malik, but the selection went to Hilary Benn who had been Special Adviser to David Blunkett, then Secretary of State for Education and Employment.[1] The Conservatives chose their general election candidate Edward Wild. The Liberal Democrats provided the strongest challenge and increased their vote by nearly 20%, but this was not enough to take the seat.[2]

The campaign was subsumed with the European Parliament elections, and the result was an all-time low turnout for a by-election:[citation needed] at 19.9% it held the record for the lowest turnout in a UK parliamentary election since World War II,[3] until surpassed in 2012 by the Manchester Central by-election.[citation needed]


Leeds Central by-election, 1999[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Hilary Benn 6,361 48.2 -21.4
Liberal Democrat Peter Wild 4,068 30.8 +19.6
Conservative Edward Wild 1,618 12.3 -1.4
Green David Blackburn 478 3.6 N/A
UKIP Raymond Northgreaves 353 2.7 N/A
Leeds Left Alliance Chris Hill 258 2.0 N/A
Independent Julian Fitzgerald 51 0.4 N/A
Majority 2,293 17.4 -38.5
Turnout 19.9
Labour hold Swing

General Election result, 1997[edit]

General Election 1997: Leeds Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Derek Fatchett 25,766 69.6
Conservative Edward Wild 5,077 13.7
Liberal Democrat David Freeman 4,164 11.3
Referendum Philip Myers 1,042 2.8 N/A
Socialist Labour Michael Rix 656 1.8 N/A
Socialist Alternative Chris Hill 304 0.8 N/A
Majority 20,689 55.9
Turnout 54.7
Labour hold Swing


  1. ^ "By-election turnout 'lowest since WWII'". BBC News. 10 June 1999. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Ward, Lucy (11 June 1999). "Benn's son wins stay-at-home byelection". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "Benn limps in after dismal vote". BBC News. 11 June 1999. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1997-2002 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 2015-10-05.