Thatcher’s Party Polls Only 36% in By-Election

From Reuters

Britain’s opposition Labor Party scored a stunning victory in a parliamentary by-election, upsetting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party one day after she celebrated 10 years in office, according to results released Friday.

“The tide has turned,” declared a jubilant Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. “Yesterday was hers, tomorrow is ours.”

Labor gained the Vale of Glamorgan seat in south Wales with a majority of 6,028 votes over the Conservatives in the election Thursday, reversing a Conservative majority of 6,251 in the 1987 general election.


Labor’s John Smith, the loser in 1987, won 48% of the vote to 36% for his Conservative opponent in an unusually high 70% turnout.

It was Labor’s best by-election win over the Conservatives in more than 50 years and only the second time it has captured a seat from the ruling party in a by-election since Thatcher became prime minister.

The government wrote off the setback as a predictable mid-term blip, a protest vote that would not be translated into national terms in a general election. The Conservatives still have a 99-seat majority in the 650-seat House of Commons.

Polls during the campaign found widespread dissatisfaction with government moves to reform the state health service, the imminent introduction of a poll tax on all adults to replace property levies, and the privatization of water supplies.