An interesting sounding talk

Posted by Helen Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We have received notice of the following talk that may well interest some of our readers:

‘Winston Churchill in defeat: Why did Churchill lose his seat in Dundee in 1922?’

a talk by Seth Thévoz

Wednesday 1 July 2009, 8pm

Churchill Room, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, London, WC1N 2AB

(It’s a 5 minute walk from Russell Square tube station – if the map doesn’t load properly first time round, just hit the ‘get directions’ button.)

c.45 minute talk, followed by c.45 minute discussion

Admission is free, and includes a glass of port for everyone in the audience.

RSVP to, so we can anticipate numbers

In 1922, Winston Churchill had been a popular MP for Dundee for the last 14 years – he had one of the safest seats in the country. But at the general election, he unexpectedly lost his seat by a landslide, to a pacifist, and an independent prohibitionist candidate. Why? What did this signify about the changes in British politics? Did Churchill ever really understand the cause of his defeat?

Seth Thévoz will for the first time present some groundbreaking research on this fascinating chapter of Churchill’s life, and Scotland’s political history.

Expect a heady combination of temperance reform, militant trade unionism, angry journalism, disgruntled war veterans, and crisis-ridden political parties!


  1. subrosa Says:
  2. It's a very interesting subject. Some students from Dundee University did research into this a few years ago too. I expect their paper is on the web somewhere but their talk was fascinating.

    Churchill stayed one night in the Queens Hotel, Dundee - the night of the election. In 14 years he'd never stayed overnight, that's how safe the seat was for those years.

    Sorry useless information I know ...

  3. When 1st elected for Dundee in 1906Churchill was a Liberal, After the break up of Lloyd George's coalition, he stood as a National Liberal: there being no Unionist i.e. Conservative candidates. The local Unionist Association backed Churchill and D J McDonald-Dundee was a two member constituency in those days just as the Labour Party backed their own candidate Morel and the Prohibitionist Scrymgeour, There was also one Liberal (Asquith) candidate.
    Churchill lost because the old Liberal Party had collapsed and its was perceived as a Labour/Tory fight and with Dundee being more inclined to Labour, Churchill's days were numbered- in 1918 Dundee had returned Churchill as a Coalition Liberal and one Labour MP, Alexander Wilkie
    In all the general eletions in the 20th century, did Dundee return a Unionist/Conservative Candidate and that was Florence Hosborough in 1921 and 1935 but at the same time theother seat in the city returned Dingle Foot as a Liberal

  4. Helen Says:
  5. Thank you for those comments. All very interesting and no, I do not think that information is useless, Subrosa. What is hitory writing but a collection of such information? I expect the speaker knows about the research done by Dundee University students but why not drop him a line, just in case?

  6. Seth Thévoz Says:
  7. It's very gratifying to hear that others find the topic as interesting as I do!

    Presumably the Dundee University research Subrosa means is John Kemp's 2000 PhD thesis on Edwin Scrymgeour, which covers the 1922 campaign? Or do you mean something else?

    Churchill was indeed an infrequent visitor at the Queen's Hotel - but he did stay overnight throughout 1908-22, anything from one to four times a year (barring the WWI years) - he usually stayed at the Royal Hotel (formerly Russell's) on the High Street, which is now a Bradford & Bingley with empty rooms above. One of his hotel bills there can be viewed at (I have quite a surplus of such 'useless information' which won't be making it into my talk!)

    Sandy gives a very good summary of the established facts of the Dundee election - though there are quite a few all-pervasive myths about this contest which I'll be challenging!

    Looking forward to hearing many of your thoughts on it.

  8. D C Thomson Says:
  9. But did he pay his own bill or pout it on expenses?

  10. Best not ask D. C. Thomson. From my superficial knowledge of Churchill's biography I'd say he would not have passed muster these days.

    Rather a shame that those "useless" facts will not make their way into the talk.

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