Westminster Abbey by-election, 1939

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Westminster Abbey by-election, 1939 was a parliamentary by-election held on 17 May 1939 for the British House of Commons constituency of Westminster Abbey in London.

Previous MP[edit]

The seat had become vacant when the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Sir Sidney Herbert had died on 22 March 1939. Herbert had held the seat since an unopposed 1932 by-election.

Previous Result[edit]

General Election, 14 November 1935
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Sidney Herbert 18,117 77.5 N/A
Labour William S. Kennedy 5,255 22.5 N/A
Majority 12,862 55.0 N/A
Turnout 47,538 49.2 N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A


The Conservative candidate was Harold Webbe. The Labour candidate in 1935, William Kennedy, had been reselected to contest the next General Election; however, the Labour party decided not to contest the by-election. The Communist party, who had not contested the seat before, chose Dr Billy Carritt. In an attempt to revive the Popular Front strategy, Carritt stood as an Independent Progressive.


Carritt's campaign chairman was Liberal MP, Richard Acland. Both the constituency Liberal and Labour parties actively supported his campaign. Those who came to speak for him in the constituency included Liberal MP Wilfrid Roberts, expelled Labour MPs Sir Stafford Cripps and George Strauss and other public figures such as J.B. Priestley.[1]


Westminster Abbey by-election, 1939
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Harold Webbe 9,678 67.4 -10.1
Independent Progressive Dr G. Billy Carritt 4,674 32.6 N/A
Majority 5,004 34.8 -20.2
Turnout 47,396 30.3 -18.9
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Carritt attracted the highest ever percentage poll of any anti-Conservative candidate in this seat. The performance revived interest nationally in electoral co-operation to defeat National Government candidates at a General Election, expected to take place later in the year.


In the 1945 general election, Carritt stood in Westminster Abbey as a Communist.

General Election, 5 July 1945
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Harold Webbe 9,160 54.4 -23.1
Labour Jeremy Hutchinson 4,408 26.1 +3.6
Communist Dr. G. Billy Carritt 2,964 17.6 N/A
Democratic Norman Leith-Hay-Clark 326 1.9 N/A
Majority 4,752 28.3 -6.5
Turnout 28,823 58.5 +28.2
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Webbe remained its MP until the constituency was abolished for the 1950 general election, when he became MP for the new Cities of London and Westminster constituency.


  1. ^ "By-Elections In London." Times [London, England] 16 May 1939: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 July 2016.