United Kingdom general election, 1918
The United Kingdom general election of 1918 was the first to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, which meant it was the first United Kingdom general election in which nearly all adult men and some women could vote. Although polling was held on 14 December 1918, the count did not begin until 28 December. The election was won by a coalition of the Conservatives under Andrew Bonar Law, the pro-coalition Liberals under David Lloyd George, and a few independent and former Labour MPs including the anti-socialist National Democratic and Labour Party. It resulted in a government which retained Lloyd George as Prime Minister.
They are considered the first universal elections in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in which for the first time the majority of poorer British and Catholic Irish adults were allowed to vote for Parliament.
|Jan 1910 election • MPs|
|Dec 1910 election • MPs|
|1918 election • MPs|
|1922 election • MPs|
|1923 election • MPs|
The parties 
The national all-party government that had conducted the war split apart as the war was ending. Prime Minister Lloyd George was a Liberal, but he had solid backing from the Conservatives as well as some Liberals. He and Conservative leader Bonar Law identified candidates who agreed to support them with a letter of endorsement, signed by both, and known as a "coupon". This election is often called the coupon election. Coupons were issued to 159 Liberal candidates and 364 Conservatives though in some cases, they were rejected. It was also known as one of the khaki elections, due to the immediate postwar setting and the role of the demobilized soldiers.
Labour decided to fight it out independently, as did those Liberals who did not want a coupon.
The election was fought not so much on the peace issue and what to do with Germany, although those themes played a role. More important was the voters' evaluation of Lloyd George in terms of what he had accomplished so far and what he promised for the future. His supporters emphasized that he had won the Great War. Against his strong record in social legislation, he himself called for making "a country fit for heroes to live in.".
Conservative victory 
On 14 November it was announced that Parliament, which had been sitting since 1910 and had been extended by emergency wartime action, would dissolve on 25 November, with elections on 14 December.
The coalition won the election easily, with the Conservatives the big winners. They were the largest party in the governing majority. An additional 47 Conservatives won without the coupon but did not act as a separate block or oppose the government except on the issue of Irish independence.
Labour, led by William Adamson vastly increased their share of the vote but only slightly increased their number of seats, losing some of their earlier leaders like Ramsay MacDonald and Arthur Henderson. The Labour vote surpassed the total votes of either Liberal party (although Labour's share was less than both combined and the Coalition Liberals alone had more seats). The anti-coalition Liberals under former Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith, won about 36 seats but lost all their leaders from parliament including Asquith. However nine of these subsequently joined the Coalition Liberal group.
The Conservative MPs included record numbers of corporate directors, bankers and businessmen, while Labour MP's were mostly from the working class. Many young veterans reacted against the harsh tone of the campaign and became disillusioned with politics.
In Ireland, the Irish Parliamentary Party lost almost all their seats, most of which were won by Sinn Féin under Éamon de Valera. The 73 Sinn Féin elected members declined to take their seat in the British House of Commons, sitting instead in the Irish revolutionary assembly, Dáil Éireann. On 17 May 1918 almost the entire leadership of Sinn Féin, including de Valera and Arthur Griffith, had been arrested. In total 47 of the Sinn Féin MPs were elected from jail. The Dáil first convened on 21 January 1919, which marks the beginning of the Irish War of Independence.
Votes by party 
|UK General Election 1918|
|Party||Standing||Elected||Gained||Unseated||Net||% of total||%||No.||Net %|
|Coalition Conservative||362||332||N/A||N/A||+ 61||47.0||32.5||3,393,167|
|Coalition Liberal||145||127||127||0||+ 127||18.0||12.6||1,318,844||N/A|
|Sinn Féin||102||73||73||0||+ 73||10.3||4.6||476,458||N/A|
|Irish Parliamentary||57||7||2||69||- 67||1.0||2.2||226,498|
|Coalition National Democratic||18||9||9||0||+ 9||1.3||1.5||156,834||N/A|
|Independent Labour||29||2||2||0||+ 2||0.3||1.1||116,322|
|National Party||26||2||2||0||+ 2||0.3||0.9||94,389||N/A|
|Co-operative Party||10||1||1||0||+ 1||0.1||0.6||57,785||N/A|
|Coalition Labour||5||4||4||0||+ 4||0.1||0.4||40,641||N/A|
|Labour Unionist||3||3||3||0||+ 3||0.4||0.3||30,304||N/A|
|Independent Liberal||9||1||1||0||+ 1||0.1||0.2||24,985|
|National Socialist Party||3||1||1||0||+ 1||0.1||0.1||11,013||N/A|
|Independent Coalition||1||1||1||0||+ 1||0.1||0.1||9,274||N/A|
|Highland Land League||4||0||0||0||0||0.0||0.1||8,710|
|British Socialist Party||3||0||0||0||0||0.0||0.1||8,394|
|Independent Labour and Agriculturalist||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||0.0||1,927|
Total votes cast: 10,434,700. All parties shown. Coalition Conservative vote is compared with Conservative vote in previous election. In each other case, the non-coalition vote is compared with the party's previous vote. The Independent NFDSS entry includes an Independent NADSS candidate, who gained a seat with 8,287 votes.
Votes summary 
Seats summary 
See also 
- United Kingdom general elections
- MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1918
- The Parliamentary Franchise in the United Kingdom 1885-1918 gives details of the franchises replaced by the ones used in 1918
- Craig, F. W. S. (1989). British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987. Dartmouth: Gower. ISBN 0900178302.
- Spartacus: Political Parties and Election Results
Further reading 
- Ball, Stuart R. (1982). "Asquith's Decline and the General Election of 1918". Scottish Historical Review 61 (171): 44–61. JSTOR 25529447.
- McEwen, J. M. (1962). "The Coupon Election of 1918 and Unionist Members of Parliament". Journal of Modern History 34 (3): 294–306. JSTOR 1874358.
- Mowat, Charles Loch (1955). Britain between the wars, 1918–1940. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 2–9.
- Turner, John (1992). British Politics and the Great War: Coalition and Conflict, 1915–1918. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 317–333, 391–436. ISBN 0300050461. Covers the campaign as well as a statistical analysis of the vote
- Wilson, Trevor (1964). "The Coupon and the British General Election of 1918". Journal of Modern History 36 (1): 28–42. JSTOR 1874424.
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