1993 Newbury by-election

The Newbury by-election, in West Berkshire, England, was held on 6 May 1993 after Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Judith Chaplin died, after only being elected the previous year. It was won by David Rendel of the Liberal Democrats with a large swing of 28.4%, and well over twice as many votes as the Conservative candidate. As with the overwhelming majority of UK by-elections, turnout was lower than at the general election – here falling from 83% to 71% (rounded).

1993 Newbury by-election

 1992 6 May 1993 1997 

The Newbury seat in the House of Commons.
Elected by simple majority using first past the post.
Triggered by death of incumbent
Candidate David Rendel Julian Davidson
Party Liberal Democrats Conservative
Popular vote 37,590 15,535
Percentage 65.1% 26.9%

MP before election

Judith Chaplin

Elected MP

David Rendel
Liberal Democrats


The by-election in Newbury was the first by-election of the 1992–1997 parliament, and the first in a string of by-election losses for the Conservative Party who were in their fourth consecutive term of office. Until 1993 the seat had been held by a Conservative MP since 1924.


Many independent candidates, or candidates from newly formed or minor parties stood in the by-election, with three candidates standing on an anti-Maastricht Treaty platform. Andrew Bannon, a Labour member from Slough stood as a Conservative Candidate in protest at a Conservative member standing as a Labour Candidate in the 1992 general election in Slough.

All candidates needed since 1985 to win at least 5% of the total votes to retain their deposit, which they must pay to stand for election. Every candidate apart from David Rendel and Julian Davidson lost their deposit, including Labour's Steve Billcliffe.

The by-election achieved a record of 19 candidates, beating the previous high of seventeen at the 1984 Chesterfield by-election. It remained the longest ballot paper in any Parliamentary election until the 2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election.


Newbury by-election, 1993[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats David Rendel 37,590 65.1 +27.8
Conservative Julian Davidson 15,535 26.9 −29.0
Labour Steve Billcliffe 1,151 2.0 −4.0
Anti-Federalist League Alan Sked 601 1.0 New
Conservative Candidate Andrew Bannon 561 1.0 New
Commoners' Party Stephen Martin 435 0.8 New
Monster Raving Loony Lord David Sutch 432 0.7 New
Green Jim Wallis 341 0.6 −0.2
Referendum Party Robin Marlar 338 0.6 New
Conservative Rebel John Browne 267 0.5 New
Corrective Party Lindi St Clair 170 0.3 New
Maastricht Referendum for Britain Bill Board 84 0.1 New
Natural Law Michael Grenville 60 0.1 New
People & Pensioners Party Johnathon Day 49 0.1 New
21st Century Independent Foresters Colin Palmer 40 0.1 New
Defence of Children's Humanity Bosnia Mladen Grbin 33 0.1 New
SDP Alan Page 33 0.1 New
Communist (PCC) Anne Murphy 32 0.1 New
Give the royal billions to schools Michael Stone 21 0.1 New
Majority 22,055 38.2 N/A
Turnout 57,399 71.3 −11.5
Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative Swing +28.4

Rendel served as MP until the 2005 general election, when he was defeated by the Conservative candidate Richard Benyon.

General election result, 1992

This is the result of the 1992 general election in Newbury.

UK General Election: Newbury, 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Judith Chaplin 37,135 55.9 −4.24
Liberal Democrats David Rendel 24,778 37.3 +5.57
Labour Richard J E Hall 3,962 6.0 −2.13
Green Jim Wallis 539 0.8 +0.8
Majority 12,357 18.61 −9.8
Turnout 66,414 82.76 +4.77
Conservative hold Swing


The loss of Newbury marked the beginning of a disastrous run of by-election defeats for John Major's Conservatives, as they went on to lose a further seven contests in seats they had held prior to the next general election in 1997.[2] The result was later described by The Herald as "a major embarrassment for the Major Government", while Tim Farron would remember it as being "inspirational" for the Liberal Democrats.[3]

See also


  1. Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1992-97 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  2. Mason, Chris (7 December 2012). "Analysis: Do by-elections mean anything?". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  3. "Obituary - David Rendel, MP who won stunning victory for Lib Dems". The Herald. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  • "Newbury 1993". By-election result and campaign literature. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010.