Bethnal Green South West by-election, 1914

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Bethnal Green South West in London 1914

The Bethnal Green South West by-election was a Parliamentary by-election. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system.

Vacancy[edit]

In 1914 Charles Masterman the Liberal MP for Bethnal Green South West was appointed to the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. However under the law at the time, any MP accepting an "office of profit under the Crown" was legally required to recontest their seat in a by-election.

Electoral history[edit]

Masterman
Bethnal Green South West by-election, 1911[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Charles Frederick Gurney Masterman 2,745 50.4 -6.6
Conservative Eric Alfred Hoffgaard 2,561 47.1 +4.1
Socialist John Scurr 134 2.5 +2.5
Majority 184 3.3 -10.7
Turnout 76.8
Liberal hold Swing -5.3

Candidates[edit]

  • Charles Masterman had represented this seat since the previous by-election when he had held the seat in a three-cornered contest. Forty-one-year-old Masterman was undertaking his sixth election as a Liberal candidate and his fourth election in as many years.
  • Sir Matthew Richard Henry Wilson was chosen to be the new Unionist challenger. Thirty-nine-year-old Sir Mathew Wilson had not stood for parliament before. He was a soldier who fought in the Boer War.[2]
  • Thirty-eight-year-old Australian-born Socialist John Scurr again stood. He had made a habit of contesting by-elections in the hope that he could attract sufficient Liberal votes to let the Unionist win. Since the 1911 by-election he had stood at the Chesterfield by-election, 1913 where he finished a poor third. He was the nomination of the Bethnal Green Trades and Labour Council.[3]
  • The British Socialist Party also considered running a candidate.[4]

Campaign[edit]

The by-election posed a very real threat to Masterman's political future, with party controversy increased by the government's efforts at the time to introduce Home Rule into Ireland, and by the resulting possibility of civil war breaking out there.[5] The militant Women's Social and Political Union and the John Bull League campaigned locally against Masterman.[6] The John Bull League was a front organisation for Horatio Bottomley the right-wing owner of the John Bull magazine. Attempts were made to blacken Masterman's character by the Northcliffe press, and by Bottomley in his organ John Bull. The militant suffragettes opposed Masterman despite the fact that he was a supporter of women's suffrage,[7] and had voted in support of the 1908 Women's Enfranchisement Bill.[8]

Result[edit]

At the request of the candidates, this was the first occasion which the hours of poll were extended for a Parliamentary election by opening at 7am instead of 8am.[9] The result was declared after a re-count, at first the Unionist majority was found to be 22 votes, after the re-count the majority was increased to 24 votes.[10]

Bethnal Green South West by-election, 1914[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Sir Matthew Richard Henry Wilson 2,828 47.6 +0.5
Liberal Rt.Hon. Charles Frederick Gurney Masterman 2,804 47.1 -3.3
Socialist John Scurr 316 5.3 +2.8
Majority 24 0.5
Turnout
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing +1.9

Aftermath[edit]

A General Election was due to take place by the end of 1915. By the summer of 1914, the following candidates had been adopted to contest that election. Due to the outbreak of war, the election never took place.

General Election 14 December 1918: Bethnal Green South West[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Sir Matthew Richard Henry Wilson 4,240 52.3
Independent Labour Ernest Thurtle 1,941 23.9
Liberal Lt-Col. Hugh Mowbray Meyler 1,935 23.8
Majority 2,299 28.4
Turnout 41.6
Unionist hold Swing
  • Wilson was the endorsed candidate of the Coalition Government.

References[edit]

  1. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F.W.S. (1974)
  2. ^ Debrett's House of Commons and Judicial Bench 1916
  3. ^ Hull Daily Mail, 16 Feb 1914
  4. ^ Western Times, Devon, 16 Feb 1914
  5. ^ Charles Masterman (1873-1927), politician and journalist by Eric Hopkins 1999
  6. ^ Western Times, Devon, 16 Feb 1914
  7. ^ Charles Masterman (1873-1927), politician and journalist by Eric Hopkins 1999
  8. ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1908/feb/28/womens-enfranchisement-bill-1#S4V0185P0_19080228_HOC_73
  9. ^ Aberdeen Evening Express, 19 Feb 1914
  10. ^ Nottingham Evening Post, 20 Feb 1914
  11. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F.W.S. (1974)
  12. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F.W.S. (1974)
  • Who's Who: www.ukwhoswho.com