Leeds Parliamentary Election Results


1952 - 7th February by-election

South East
D. W. Healey (Labour) 17,194
C. E. Kirwin (Conservative) 9,995

The by-election was called when Major Milner was ennobled in December 1951. The issue that dominated the campaign was summed up in a letter from Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, to Eddie Kirwin, the Conservative candidate, in which he explained that the Government was taking steps to halt the downward trend in gold and dollar reserves. Kirwin claimed that the Conservative Government was simply carrying out ‘the role of the good housekeeper’. Denis Healey highlighted the effect increased National Health service charges would have on the weak and the poor and argued that restrictions on hire purchase particularly affected the working class. He claimed that £20 million could be raised by increasing purchase tax on luxury goods. The Yorkshire Post vigorously supported the Conservative candidate whilst the Yorkshire Evening Post’s editorial stated that the ‘road to solvency leads through the valley of retrenchment’.

When news of the death of George VI was announced on the day before polling, both parties brought their campaigns to an end. The loud speaker cars were recalled and all evening meetings cancelled. Denis Healey was in the middle of a press conference when the news was received. Healey went on to win for Labour but with a reduced majority. Only an hour after his election he performed his first duty as an MP joining the other Leeds MPs at the Town Hall to hear the proclamation of Elizabeth II.