From the archive: The General Election of May 1979

SOME political anoraks (sorry psephologists) have spent part of May Bank Holiday Monday watching the BBC Parliament channels re-running of the 1979 General Election.

It was held on May 3rd, 1979 and almost forty years to the day, signalled, in many ways, a tremendous change in the political landscape in the United Kingdom.

As for Harlow, Labour MP Stan Newens majority of 13,451 was slashed to 1,392.

Why did Stan Newens lose over 12,000 votes? Stan devotes a page to it in his memoirs.

He said: “I had been very nervous about the result in Harlow. In addition to the anti-Laboiur swing, I knew that I would lose votes over my stand in favour of abortion and my failure to give uncritical support to Israel in the Middle East….I took th review that we had contributed to our own defeat.”

For this who wonder why a stand on abortion could cost votes in Harlow, then close to 10% of the population in Harlow was Irish Catholic. What Fr. Donegan said in the pulpit at Holy Cross Church went a long way.

Stan Newens (Labour) 22,698
John Powley (Cons) 21,306
Robert Browne (Liberal) 8,289
J Culds (National Front_ 840

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