Crewe by-election, 1912

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Walter McLaren MP

The Crewe by-election was a Parliamentary by-election. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system.


Walter McLaren had been Liberal MP for the seat of Crewe since the April 1910 By-Election. In 1912, he died causing the vacancy.

Previous results[edit]

General Election December 1910 Electorate 15,866
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Walter McLaren 7,629 56.3
Liberal Unionist Ernest Craig 5,925 43.7
Liberal hold Swing

The Liberal party had won every election in Crewe, since the seat was created in 1885 apart from the 1895 election, when a Conservative won.


The Liberal candidate was 30-year-old Harold Lawson Murphy, a lecturer in Political Economy from Dublin University. He had trained as a solicitor and was secretary to the Liberal Cabinet Minister, Sir John Simon.

The Unionist candidate was Ernest Craig, who had been the unsuccessful Liberal Unionist candidate here in December 1910.

The Labour party, who had not fielded a candidate in December 1910 having fielded a candidate in January 1910, decided to re-enter the contest. Their candidate was James Holmes who was a member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.

Given the intervention of the Labour party, the result of the previous three-way contest is relevant;

General Election January 1910 Electorate 15,866
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal James Tomkinson 7,761 53.3
Liberal Unionist John Lane Harrington 5,419 37.2
Labour Frank Herbert Rose 1,380 9.5
Liberal hold Swing


Crewe by-election, 1912 Electorate 16,353
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Ernest Craig 6,260 44.6
Liberal Harold Lawson Murphy 5,294 37.7
Labour James Holmes 2,485 17.7
Unionist hold Swing

The intervention of the Labour candidate took enough votes from the Liberal candidate to help the Unionist candidate win.


A General Election was due to take place by the end of 1915. By the autumn of 1914, the following candidates had been adopted to contest that election;

Following the by-election the Labour party decided to re-adopt Holmes as their prospective parliamentary candidate. The National Union of Railwaymen agreed to be his sponsor. However Holmes was concerned that another election where the progressive vote was split would result in another Unionist victory. He called for the Labour and Liberal parties to come to some sort of electoral arrangement as had been the practice in the past. In response, the Labour party decided to drop him as prospective candidate.[1] Due to the outbreak of war, the election never took place. Joseph Davies, who had been adopted as Liberal candidate back in 1913 was a supporter of David Lloyd George and in 1918 was granted the 'Coalition Coupon'. As a result, Ernest Craig withdrew and did not defend the seat he had won 6 years earlier.

General Election 14 December 1918: Crewe Electorate 34,818
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Joseph Davies 13,392 56.2
Labour James Thomas Brownlie 10,439 43.8
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing


  1. ^ "Labour And Liberalism." Times [London, England] 13 Mar. 1914: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
  • Craig, F. W. S. (1974). British parliamentary election results 1885-1918 (1 ed.). London: Macmillan.
  • The Social and Economic Development of Crewe, 1780-1923 by William Henry Chaloner [1950]
  • The Socialist review - Volume 10 - [1913]
  • Wikipedia:
  • Who's Who:
  • Debrett's House of Commons 1916