2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election

The 2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election was a by-election held in the United Kingdom on 10 July 2008 to elect a new Member of Parliament (MP) for constituency of Haltemprice and Howden. The by-election was triggered by the surprise and controversial resignation from the House of Commons of the sitting MP David Davis on 12 June 2008. Davis's stated intention was to spark a wider public debate on the perceived erosion of civil liberties in the UK by recontesting his seat on this single issue platform, launched as the David Davis for Freedom campaign. The two other main political parties Labour and the Liberal Democrats declined to field candidates, Liberal Democrats as they supported Davis in this issue and Labour as they considered the election a "political stunt".

2008 Haltemprice and Howden
by-election

 2005 10 July 2008 2010 

Haltemprice and Howden constituency
  First party Second party Third party
 
Candidate David Davis Shan Oakes Joanne Robinson
Party Conservative Green English Democrat
Popular vote 17,113 1,758 1,714
Percentage 71.6% 7.4% 7.2%
Swing 24.1% New party New party


MP before election

David Davis
Conservative

Elected MP

David Davis
Conservative

Davis was subsequently re-elected to his seat with 72% of the vote.[1] Davis received 17,113 votes, with the closest challenge coming from the Green Party and English Democrats with 1,758 and 1,714 votes respectively. All other candidates lost their deposit due to polling less than 5% of the vote. Due to the unusual circumstances, the election broke several records, including the most candidates running in a UK parliamentary by-election – 26, the largest number of independents, the largest number of people losing their deposits and the best by-election, until then, for the Green Party and English Democrats.[2]

While single issue by-elections such as this one were not unprecedented, they were rare in modern political times. Under election law, other candidates were free to stand on their chosen manifesto and not necessarily obliged to oppose or support Davis. Davis's use of a by-election in this way attracted both praise and criticism from politicians, the public and the media, with The Sun newspaper initially considering fielding a candidate to oppose Davis in support of anti-terrorism legislation. The Labour party's non-participation stance attracted specific criticism[citation needed] as appearing to be afraid to debate, following recent poor election results and a record low opinion poll result; while Davis attracted criticism as being vain, wasting public money, and for contesting the issue in his safe seat.