This film is part of Free

Pike's Cine-Sound Pictorial Composite Reel No. 5

Another example of a by-election protest vote as David Steel arrives to address the Pickering populace as the Liberals gain a famous victory in the middle of Thatcher’s rule.

Non-Fiction 1986 19 mins

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Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


With a by-election for the constituency of Ryedale in May 1986, local Liberal councillor Keith Snowden was on hand to film the events leading up to the famous Liberal victory of Elizabeth Shields, including Liberal Party leader David Steel speaking to a large crowd in the centre of Pickering, followed by Shields holding a surgery. Two years later Paddy Ashdown arrives on his campaign to become the first leader of the new Social and Liberal Democrat Party.

Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, local historian and former Mayor of Pickering Keith Snowden produced many films documenting local events, and in particular the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The by-election was the result of the death of the incumbent Conservative MP John Spence in March. 1986 was the lowest year for poll ratings for the Conservatives since the boost they got from the 1982 Falklands War. It isn’t entirely clear why, the economy was growing and although unemployment was over 3 million, it had been for the previous three years. Yet Elizabeth Shields was the recipient of a 20% swing in her favour. The poll ratings rose the following year when the Tories won back the seat at the general election.