Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1943

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The Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1943 was a parliamentary by-election held in Scotland on 11 February 1943 to elect a new Member of Parliament (MP) for the House of Commons constituency of Midlothian and Peebles Northern.

It was notable for the strong showing of the Common Wealth Party candidate.


The vacancy was caused by the resignation in January 1943[1] of the constituency's Unionist MP, John Colville, to take up the post of Governor of Bombay. He had held the seat since the 1929 general election.[2]


During World War II, the parties in the Coalition Government had agreed not to contest by-elections in seats held by other coalition parties, and many wartime by-elections were therefore unopposed.

The Unionist Party nominated Sir David King Murray, the Solicitor General for Scotland, who may have expected to be returned unopposed. The Labour, Liberal and National Liberal parties upheld the agreement, but other parties who disagreed with the truce could not be prevented from standing as independent candidates, and nor could other minor parties. In this case the newly formed Common Wealth Party nominated as its candidate Tom Wintringham, one of party's founders.


The result was a victory for the Unionist candidate, Sir David King Murray,[3] but with a massively-reduced majority. At the 1935 general election, the Unionist majority over the Labour Party candidate had been 25.8% of the votes, but Wintringham cut that to 3.8%.[2]

By-election 1943: Midlothian and Peebles Northern [2][4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Sir David King Murray KC 11,620 51.9 −11.0
Common Wealth Tom Wintringham 10,751 48.1 N/A
Majority 869 3.8 −22.0
Turnout 22,371 34.6 −39.7
Unionist hold Swing −11.0


A week after the by-election, Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels cited Common Wealth's strong showing as evidence of a communist resurgence in Britain. Making his famous 'total war' speech to an audience of Nazi loyalists in Berlin's Sportpalast, Goebbels said: "In a recent by-election for the House of Commons, the independent, that is communist, candidate got 10,741 of the 22,371 votes cast. This was in a district that had formerly been a conservative stronghold. Within a short time, 10,000 voters, nearly half, had been lost to the communists. That is proof that the Bolshevist danger exists in England too, and that it will not go away simply because it is ignored."

King Murray held the seat only until the post-war general election in July 1945, when he stood down to be a Senator of the College of Justice and a Lord of Session.

Wintringham stood in Aldershot at the 1945 general election, but without success. His wife Kitty contested Midlothian and Peebles in 1945, but won only 6.4% of the votes and lost her deposit.[2]


  1. ^ Department of Information Services (9 June 2009). "Appointments to the Chiltern Hundreds and Manor of Northstead Stewardships since 1850" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 638. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 
  3. ^ "no. 35907". The London Gazette. 16 February 1943. p. 827. Retrieved 11 July 20100.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Whitaker's Almanack, 1944

See also[edit]