1988 Glasgow Govan by-election

← 1987 10 November 1988 1992 →
Candidate Jim Sillars Bob Gillespie Graeme Hamilton
Party SNP Labour Conservative
Popular vote 14,677 11,123 2,207
Percentage 48.8 36.9 7.3

Map showing the Glasgow Govan Parliamentary constituency within Scotland.

MP before election

Bruce Millan

Subsequent MP

Jim Sillars

The Glasgow Govan by-election, for the House of Commons constituency of Glasgow Govan, Scotland, was held on 10 November 1988. It was caused by the resignation of Bruce Millan as Member of Parliament for the constituency following his appointment as a European Commissioner.[1]

The result of the election provided the first major upset of the by-elections in the 1987-1992 Parliament and was seen as embarrassing for the Labour Party, with the former Labour MP Jim Sillars winning the seat for the Scottish National Party with a majority of 3,554 votes and a large swing from Labour to the SNP. However, it would soon be the Tories who were suffering losses in by-elections, although the 1987-1992 Parliament would ultimately end with a fourth consecutive Tory victory.[1]

Previous result and background

General election 1987: Glasgow Govan
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Bruce Millan 24,071 64.8 +9.8
SDP A. Ferguson 4,562 12.3 -7.4
Conservative J. R. Girsman 4,411 11.9 -7.5
SNP F. McCabe 3,851 10.4 +4.5
Communist Douglas Chalmers 237 0.6 N/A
Majority 19,509 52.5
Turnout 37,132 73.4
Labour hold Swing +8.6

Bruce Millan had first been elected as MP for Govan in the 1983 general election, having previously represented Glasgow Craigton, a constituency which was abolished in that year and partly merged into the redrawn Govan.[2]

At the previous general election Millan, a former Scottish Secretary, had easily held the seat for the Labour Party, increasing his vote share from 55% in 1983 to 64.9%. In contrast, his main rivals, the SDP and the Conservatives, had both seen their shares of the vote drop by over 7%. Meanwhile, the SNP had managed to increase their share of the vote by over 4%. While Millan had been the clear winner, less than 1,000 votes separated the SDP in second and the SNP in fourth place, a significant change from 1983 when the SNP had been over 5,000 votes behind the SDP.[3]


Glasgow Govan by-election, 1988[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SNP Jim Sillars 14,677 48.8 Increase38.4
Labour Bob Gillespie 11,123 36.9 Decrease27.8
Conservative Graeme Hamilton 2,207 7.3 Decrease4.6
SLD Bernard Ponsonby 1,246 4.1 Decrease8.2
Green George Campbell 345 1.1 New
Communist Douglas Chalmers 281 0.9 Increase0.3
Monster Raving Loony Lord Sutch 174 0.6 New
Independent Fraser Clark 51 0.2 New
Majority 3,554 11.8 N/A
Turnout 30,104 60.2
SNP gain from Labour Swing Increase33.1

See also


  1. ^ a b The Times Guide to the House of Commons April 1992. London: Times Books. 1992. pp. 286–287. ISBN 0-7230-0497-8.
  2. ^ The Times Guide to the House of Commons June 1983. London: Times Books Ltd. 1983. p. 119. ISBN 0-7230-0255-X.
  3. ^ The Times Guide to the House of Commons June 1987. London: Times Books Ltd. 1987. p. 120. ISBN 0-7230-0298-3.
  4. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1987-92 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 1 October 2015.