Sunday, March 14, 2010


Today is the 48th anniversary of the Orpington by-election. I had been elected to the Orpington UDC the previous year for my home ward of Downe:

The result of the Downe ward election for Orpington UDC, Saturday 13th May 1961:
Lubbock, E.R. (Lib.) 361
Foster, Wing-Commander M.G.L. (C.) 173
Majority 188
Lib. gain from Independent.
Source: Orpington Times, Friday 19th May 1961, page 4.
(With thanks to the Bromley Local Studies Library)

The declaration of the result of the by-election can be seen at

We had very high expectations of the Party's fortunes in the rest of that Parliament, but the only other victory was Emlyn Hooson's in the Montgomeryshire by-election, following the death of Clem Davies, Jo Grimond's predecessor as Party Leader. And at the 1964 general election, although we got nearly twice as many votes as in 1959, there wasn't the breakthrough we expected. Such is the blatant unfairness of the 'first past the post' system, we only went up from 6 to 9 MPs. What has been most remarkable in my half-century of political life is that so many liberals with a small 'l' have clung tenaciously to the belief that ultimately they would achieve a Liberal Government, in spite of the scales being so heavily weighted against them.

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