A half-century of by-election upsets

Previous shock results included:



1958: Mark Bonham-Carter gave the Liberals their first by-election gain since 1929 when he won Torrington, Devon, from Tories with a 219 majority. It was a bad year for Conservatives, who lost Rochdale to Labour, coming third.

1962: Liberal Eric Lubbock, now Lord Avebury, took Orpington off the Tories on a 26.8% swing.

1966: Gwynfor Evans gave Plaid Cymru its first seat when he took Carmarthen from Labour on an 18% swing.

1967: Winifred Ewing snatched a seat for the Scottish National Party, when she turned a 16,576 Labour majority at Hamilton into a 1,799 nationalist one. She polled 46% in a constituency previously uncontested by her party.

1968: Tories chalked up a 21.1% swing to take Dudley on March 28 from Labour as well as marginal Meriden and Acton. This was possibly the first time in history a party lost three seats at by-elections on the same day.

1969: Liberals captured Ladywood, their first Birmingham seat for 83 years, from Labour on a 32% swing. The two years from November 2 1967 to Oct 30 1969 brought Labour its worst by-election run. The party lost 10 seats during that time and the swing against it was never less than 10%.

1972: Liberals overturned a 12,696 Conservative majority to win Sutton and Cheam on a 32.6% swing.

1973: Labour defector Dick Taverne won Lincoln for the Democratic Labour Party, standing against his former party and polling 58.2%. At Ripon Liberal David Austick gained the seat on a 25.3% swing while Clement Freud polled 38.3% to win the Isle of Ely for the party - which had not fought the constituency in the 1970 General Election. The SNP's Margo MacDonald gained Glasgow Govan from Labour on a 26.7% swing.

1976: Tories gained Walsall North on a 22.5% swing after the imprisonment of former Labour minister John Stonehouse.

1977: The Conservatives toppled Labour in its Ashfield mining stronghold on a 20.8% swing.

1979: David Alton turned a Labour majority of 6,171 in Liverpool Edge Hill into a Liberal lead of 8,133, achieving a 32.4% swing.

1981: Shirley Williams, a Social Democratic Party founder member, won Crosby from Tories on a 25.5% swing for the Liberal/SDP Alliance. Liberal Bill Pitt ousted Conservatives at Croydon North West on a 24.2% swing.

1982: But in the last days of the Falklands War it was Tories' turn to win when they took Mitcham and Morden off former Labour MP Bruce Douglas-Mann who had defected to the SDP, resigned his seat and stood again, pushing his old party into third place. There was a net 10.2% swing from Labour to Tories on what was the last occasion the Government party gained an Opposition seat at a by-election.

1983: Liberal Simon Hughes gained the highest swing since the Second Word War - 44.2% - when he won Bermondsey from Labour.

1987: Just months from the General Election the SDP's Rosie Barnes stormed Labour's Greenwich, south London, stronghold, winning with a 16.1% switch.

1988: Jim Sillars grabbed Glasgow Govan for the SNP on a 33.1% swing from Labour, emulating the victory in the same area of his wife Margo MacDonald 15 years before.

1989: Labour's John Smith took the Vale of Glamorgan from the Tories on a 12.4% switch - giving the party its most dramatic by-election win for more than half a century.

1990: The "safe" Conservative seat of Mid-Staffordshire was won by Labour with a 21.3% swing. Liberal Democrats ended a run of disappointing performances when they captured Eastbourne from the Tories on a 20% switch.

1991: Liberal Democrats captured Ribble Valley, among the top 15 Tory strongholds, by notching up a 24.7% swing after a campaign dominated by the poll tax. Labour also triumphed two months later winning Monmouth from the Tories on a 12.6% move. Key issue here was the National Health Service.

1993: The first by-election of the new parliament saw Liberal Democrats capture Newbury from Tories with 22,055 majority on a 28.4% swing. This was followed by the Christchurch contest which brought the biggest recorded swing against a Government - 35.4% from Conservative to Liberal Democrats.

1994: Tories were forced into third place at Eastleigh, where they were defending a 17,702 majority. Liberal Democrats gained the seat on a 21.4% swing with a 9,239 majority over Labour. The year ended with Labour scoring its biggest swing for nearly half a century, 29.1%, to take Dudley West from Tories.

1995: Conservatives were forced into third place by Labour as the SNP took Perth and Kinross off them on an 11.5% swing. Just over a month later they also tumbled to third position as Liberal Democrats took Littleborough and Saddleworth on an 11.6% swing.

1996: Tories went down to Labour in another landslide at Staffordshire South East where the votes movement was 22.2%.

1997: With the General Election less than two months away, Conservatives lost to Labour at Wirral South on a 17.2% swing. Tories failed to win a single by-election between William Hague's victory at Richmond, Yorks in 1989 and their success in the first contest of the new 1997 Parliament at Uxbridge.

But this success was short-lived when Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten won the Winchester poll, a re-run after the General Election result was declared void, with a 21,556 majority on a 19.8% swing.

2000: Liberal Democrats took Romsey, next door constituency to Winchester, turning an 8,585 Conservative majority into one of 3,311 for themselves on a 12.56% swing. This was the first time for 35 years that Tories had lost a seat at a by-election in Great Britain when they were in Opposition at Westminster.

2003: Labour suffered its first Commons by-election loss since it returned to power in 1997 when Liberal Democrats snatched Brent East, north London on a 29% swing.

2004: Liberal Democrats, benefiting from Government unpopularity over the Iraq war, took another Labour seat at Leicester South on a 21.5% switch.

2006: Labour was rocked again by Liberal Democrats when they gained at Dunfermline and Fife West, Scotland on a 16.2% swing in the next door constituency to that of the, then, Chancellor Gordon Brown.

2008: Mr Brown, now Prime Minister, was shaken by Tories' first Commons by-election gain in more than a quarter of a century when they took Crewe and Nantwich on a 17.6% votes turn-round. Two months later Glasgow East became the second so-called "safe" seat lost by Labour on Mr Brown's watch. The switch to the Scottish National Party was 22.5%.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable