Robert Bower (Conservative politician)

Commander Robert Tatton Bower (9 June 1894 – 5 July 1975)[1] was a Royal Navy officer and a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom.

At the 1931 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Cleveland.[2] He was re-elected in 1935, and held the seat until his defeat at the 1945 general election by the Labour Party candidate George Willey.[2]

On 4 April 1938, Bower was involved in a House of Commons incident when he interrupted Jewish Labour MP Emanuel Shinwell, telling him to "go back to Poland". Shinwell walked across the floor of the House and struck Bower in the face, before turning to the Speaker, apologising and walking out of the chamber. Bower also then apologised to the Speaker, and no disciplinary action was taken against either MP.[3]

The context of this violent confrontation was a series of questions being put by Labour MPs to the Foreign Office minister R. A. Butler, challenging the government's apparent recognition of the Duke of Alba as a diplomatic representative of General Franco's nationalist forces, who were then in the midst of a civil war against Spain's Republican government. Shinwell had described Butler's answers as "humbug" and "hypocrisy" and was being reprimanded by the Speaker for unparliamentary language at the moment Bower made his own intervention. The Speaker, Capt. Edward Fitzroy, took the view that: "Both were so thoroughly disorderly, that I propose to ignore them if the hon. Members will apologise."[4]


  1. "House of Commons constituencies beginning with "C" (part 4)". Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  2. Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  3. "Shinwell Slaps M.P. in Commons for Taunt, 'go Back to Poland'". 5 April 1938. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014.
  4. "Spain". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Commons. 4 April 1938. col. 3-16.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Mansfield
Member of Parliament for Cleveland
Succeeded by
George Willey

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