Manchester North West by-election, 1908

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The Manchester North West by-election was a Parliamentary by-election. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system.


Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill had been Liberal MP for the seat of Manchester North West since the 1906 General Election when he gained it from the Conservatives. He was obliged to submit to re-election in after his appointment as President of the Board of Trade, as the Ministers of the Crown Act required newly appointed Cabinet ministers to re-contest their seats.

Electoral history[edit]

Before Churchill had gained the seat it had been Conservative since it was created in 1885. So it was a tough assignment to retain the seat given the result was in 1906;

General Election January 1906[1] Electorate 11,411
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Winston Churchill 5,659 56.2
Conservative William Joynson-Hicks 4,398 43.8
Majority 1,241 12.4
Turnout 88.0
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing


William Joynson-Hicks
Henry Hyndman, SDF Leader
  • Although there was no Labour Party candidate, the rival Social Democratic Federation parachuted in a 54-year-old Branch Secretary, Dan Irving to contest the seat. Burnley was one of the SDF's strongest branches due to the activities of their leader Henry Hyndman. In 1902, Irving had won election to Burnley Town Council. At the 1906 General Election, Irving had contested Accrington finishing a poor third.


Polling Day was fixed for the 24 April 1908.

Manchester had been a key battleground at the 1906 General election. It was known to favour Free trade and oppose the protectionist policies of Joseph Chamberlain. Conservatives defeats in Manchester in 1906 were blamed on Tariff reform policies. Many Manchester Conservatives opposed Tariff reform, including Joynson-Hicks. His position helped to neutralise the issue in the by-election and promote local Conservative unity. However, Churchill still received endorsement from the Free Trade League.

Suffragettes harassed Churchill, over his refusal to support legislation that would give women the vote.[2] This local opposition was led by suffragetes Constance Markievicz, Eva Gore-Booth, and Esther Roper.[3]

There was Jewish hostility to Joynson-Hicks over his support for the controversial Aliens Act.[2] A number of Roman Catholic priests urged their congregation to vote Conservative after Joynson-Hicks attacked Liberal education policy for undermining the autonomy of Roman Catholic Schools.[2]


The Conservatives re gained the seat.

1908 Manchester North West by-election[4] Electorate 11,914
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Joynson-Hicks 5,417 50.7 +6.9
Liberal Winston Churchill 4,988 46.7 -9.5
Social Democratic Federation Dan Irving 276 2.6 n/a
Majority 429 4.0 16.4
Turnout 89.7 +1.7
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +8.2

The following day, the Daily Telegraph ran a front page headline "Winston Churchill is OUT! OUT! OUT!"


Although Churchill lost his seat he was soon back, on 9 May 1908, after winning the Dundee by-election, 1908. Joynson-Hicks gained personal notoriety in the immediate aftermath of this election for an address to his Jewish hosts at a dinner given by the Maccabean Society, during which he said "he had beaten them all thoroughly and soundly and was no longer their servant."[5] This act may have contributed to him losing his seat back to the Liberals at the next election.

General Election January 1910[6] Electorate 11,961
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Kemp 5,930 53.5
Conservative William Joynson-Hicks 5,147 46.5 -5
Majority 783 7.0 11.0
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +5.5

At the January 1910 General Election, Irving stood for the SDF at Rochdale, coming third.


  1. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918
  2. ^ a b c Paul Addison, Churchill on the Home Front 1900–1955 (second edition London 1993) p. 64
  3. ^ Marecco, Anne (1967). The Rebel Countess. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 
  4. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918
  5. ^ W. D. Rubinstein, "Recent Anglo-Jewish Historiography and the Myth of Jix's Anti-Semitism, Part Two" Australian Journal of Jewish Studies 7:2 (1993) pp. 24–45, p. 35
  6. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918