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Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1929

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Title: Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1929  
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Subject: National Party of Scotland, Lewis Spence, John Colville, 1st Baron Clydesmuir, Midlothian and Peebles Northern (UK Parliament constituency)
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Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1929

The Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1929 was a parliamentary by-election held in Scotland on 1 January 1929 to elect a new Member of Parliament (MP) for the House of Commons constituency of Midlothian and Peebles Northern.

It was the first election to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to be contested by a candidate for a Scottish nationalist party.


The vacancy was caused by the death in December 1928[1] of the constituency's Unionist MP, Sir George Hutchison. He had held the seat from 1922 to 1923 and from 1924 until his death.[2]

Previous Result

General Election 1924: Midlothian and Peebles Northern[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative George Aitken Clark Hutchison KC 11,320
Labour Andrew Bathgate Clarke 9,173


Four candidates were nominated.

The Labour Party nominated Andrew Clarke, who had held the seat from 1923 to 1924. The Liberal Party fielded D. E. Keir, and the Conservaives nominated the industrialist John Colville, who had been the National Liberal candidate for Motherwell in 1922.

The fourth candidate was the journalist and folklorist Lewis Spence of the National Party of Scotland, who was the first nationalist to contest a parliamentary seat in Scotland.


The result was a victory for the Labour Party candidate, Andrew Clarke,[4] who took the seat with a slightly lower share of the vote than in his defeat in 1924, when there had been only two candidates.[2]

With only 4.5% of the votes, Spence lost his £150 deposit.[2]

By-election Jan 1929: Midlothian and Peebles Northern[2][5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Andrew Bathgate Clarke 7,917 42.0 +2.8
Conservative John Colville 6,965 36.9 −18.3
Liberal David Edwin Keir 3,130 16.6 N/A
National (Scotland) Lewis Spence 842 4.5 N/A
Majority 952 5.1
Labour gain from Conservative Swing


Clarke's victory was short-lived. At the general election on 30 May 1929, Colville won the seat, and although Clarke stood again in 1931, the by-election victory was his last electoral success.

Colville held the seat for fourteen years, holding a variety of ministerial posts, and left Parliament in 1943 to become Governor of Bombay, triggering another by-election. He was ennobled in 1948 as Baron Clydesmuir.


See also

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