United Kingdom general election, 1918

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United Kingdom general election, 1918
United Kingdom
Dec 1910 ←
members
14 December 1918 → 1922
members

All 707 seats to the House of Commons
354 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 57.2%
  First party Second party Third party
  Andrew Bonar Law 01.jpg David Lloyd George.jpg Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg
Leader Andrew Bonar Law David Lloyd George Éamon de Valera
Party Conservative Coalition Liberal Sinn Féin
Leader since 1916 7 December 1916 1917
Leader's seat Glasgow Central Caernarvon Boroughs Clare East and Mayo East
Last election 271 seats, 40.4% 272 seats, 40.5% (as unified Liberal Party) N/A
Seats won 379* 127 73
Seat change Increase 108 Decrease 145 N/A
Popular vote 4,083,419 1,396,590 497,107
Percentage 39.2% 13.4% 4.8%
Swing Decrease 7.1% Decrease 30.4% Increase 4.8%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Cropped photograph of William Adamson.jpg Herbert Henry Asquith.jpg George Nicoll Barnes in 1916.jpg
Leader William Adamson H. H. Asquith George Nicoll Barnes
Party Labour Liberal National Democratic
Leader since 24 October 1917 30 April 1908 1918
Leader's seat West Fife East Fife (defeated) Glasgow Gorbals
Last election 42 seats, 7.1% 272 seats, 40.5% (as unified Liberal party) N/A
Seats won 57 36 13 (with other Coalition Labour)
Seat change Increase 15 Decrease 236 N/A
Popular vote 2,245,777 1,388,784 197,475
Percentage 21.5% 13.3% 1.9%
Swing Increase 14.4% Decrease 30.5% N/A

UK Election 1918 Map.png

Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.
(Map excludes Ireland)

* The Conservative total includes 47 Conservative candidates elected without the Coalition coupon, of whom 23 were Irish Unionists.

Both Liberal factions are here compared with the united Liberal Party's result in December 1910. Therefore the figures for swing, etc., do not add up.


PM before election

David Lloyd George
Coalition Liberal

Subsequent PM

David Lloyd George
Coalition Liberal

The United Kingdom general election of 1918 was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended World War I, and held on Saturday 14 December 1918. It was the first general election to be held on a single day, although the count did not take place until 28 December due to the time taken to transport votes from soldiers serving overseas.

It resulted in a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George, who had replaced H. H. Asquith as prime minister during the war.

It was the first election to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918. It was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote. Previously, all women and many poor men had been excluded from voting.

The election was also noted for the dramatic result in Ireland, which showed clear disapproval towards government policy. The Irish Parliamentary Party were almost completely wiped out by the hardline Sinn Féin republicans, who refused to take their seats in Westminster. It was the last election before the majority of Irish counties seceded from the UK to form the Irish Free State; the Irish War of Independence began soon after the election.

Jan 1910 election MPs
Dec 1910 election MPs
1918 election MPs
1922 election MPs
1923 election MPs

Background[edit]

Lloyd George's coalition government was supported by the majority of the Liberals and Andrew Bonar Law's Conservatives. However, the election saw a split in the Liberal Party between those who were aligned with Lloyd George and the government and those who were aligned with Asquith, the party's official leader.

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.[1]

Following confidential negotiations over the summer of 1918, it was agreed that certain candidates were to be offered the support of the prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party at the next general election. To these candidates a letter, known as the Coalition Coupon, was sent, indicating the government's endorsement of their candidacy. 159 Liberal, 364 Conservative, 20 National Democratic and Labour, and 2 Coalition Labour candidates received the coupon. For this reason the election was sometimes known as the coupon election.

80 Conservative candidates stood without a coupon. Of these, 35 candidates were Irish Unionists. Of the other non-couponed Conservative candidates, only 23 stood against a Coalition candidate; the remaining 22 candidates stood in areas where there were no coupons, or refused the offer of a coupon.[2]

The Labour Party, led by William Adamson, fought the election independently, as did those Liberals who did not receive a coupon.

The election was not chiefly fought over what peace to make with Germany, although those issues 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 called for making "a country fit for heroes to live in."[3]

This election was known as a khaki election, due to the immediate postwar setting and the role of the demobilized soldiers.

Coalition victory[edit]

The coalition won the election easily, with the Conservatives the big winners. They were the largest party in the governing majority. Lloyd George remained Prime Minister, despite the Conservatives outnumbering his pro-coalition Liberals.

An additional 47 Conservatives, 23 of whom were Irish Unionists, won without the coupon but did not act as a separate block or oppose the government except on the issue of Irish independence.

While most of the pro-coalition Liberals were re-elected, Asquith's faction was reduced to just 36 seats and lost all their leaders from parliament; Asquith himself lost his own seat. Nine of these MPs subsequently joined the Coalition Liberal group.

The Labour Party greatly increased its vote share, surpassing the total votes of either Liberal party. However, they only slightly increased their number of seats, and lost some of their earlier leaders like Ramsay MacDonald and Arthur Henderson. Labour won the most seats in Wales (which had previously been dominated by the Liberals) for the first time, a feat it has continued to the present day.

The Conservative MPs included record numbers of corporate directors, bankers and businessmen, while Labour MPs were mostly from the working class. Many young veterans reacted against the harsh tone of the campaign and became disillusioned with politics.[4]

Ireland[edit]

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.

Constance Markievicz became the first woman elected to Parliament. She was a Sinn Féin member elected for Dublin St Patrick's, and like the other Sinn Féin MPs, she did not take her seat.

Results[edit]

Maps[edit]

Results in Ireland. The Sinn Féin MPs did not take their seats in the House of Commons, and instead formed Dáil Éireann.
Results in London

Seats by party[edit]

332 127 73 57 47 36 35
Coalition Conservative Coalition Liberal Sinn Féin Labour C Liberal O
UK General Election 1918
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Coalition Conservative 362 332 N/A N/A + 332 47.0 32.5 3,393,167
  Labour 361 57 N/A N/A + 15 8.1 20.8 2,171,230
  Liberal 277 36 N/A N/A - 235 5.1 13.0 1,355,398
  Coalition Liberal 145 127 127 0 + 127 18.0 12.6 1,318,844 N/A
  Conservative 80 47 47 0 - 224 6.6 5.9 610,681 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
  Independent 42 2 2 0 + 2 0.3 1.0 105,261
  National Party 26 2 2 0 + 2 0.3 0.9 94,389 N/A
  Independent NFDSS 26 1 0 0 0 0.1 0.6 66,451 N/A
  Co-operative Party 10 1 1 0 + 1 0.1 0.6 57,785 N/A
  Independent Conservative 17 1 1 1 0 0.1 0.4 44,637
  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 8 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.2 24,985
  Agriculturalist 7 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 19,412 N/A
  National Democratic 8 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 17,991 N/A
  NFDSS 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 12,329 N/A
  Belfast Labour 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 12,164 N/A
  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
  Women's Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,614 N/A
  British Socialist Party 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,394
  Independent Democratic 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,351 N/A
  Independent Nationalist 6 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,183
  Socialist Labour 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 7,567
  Scottish Prohibition 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 5,212
  Independent Progressive 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 5,077
  Independent Labour and Agriculturalist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,927
  Christian Socialist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 597

Total votes cast: 10,434,700. Turnout 57.2%.[5] All parties shown. 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[edit]

Popular vote
All Coalition Parties
  
47.14%
Coalition Conservative
  
32.52%
Labour
  
20.81%
Liberal
  
12.99%
Coalition Liberal
  
12.64%
Conservative
  
5.85%
Sinn Féin
  
4.57%
Irish Parliamentary
  
2.17%
Coalition National Democratic
  
1.5%
Independent
  
3.74%
Others
  
3.21%
  
 
All Conservative Parties
  
39.09%
All Labour Parties
  
22.43%
All Liberal Parties
  
25.87%
All Irish Nationalist Parties
  
6.82%

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
All Coalition Parties
  
66.9%
Coalition Conservative
  
46.96%
Labour
  
8.06%
Liberal
  
5.09%
Coalition Liberal
  
17.96%
Conservative
  
6.65%
Sinn Féin
  
10.33%
Irish Parliamentary
  
0.99%
Coalition National Democratic
  
1.27%
Independent
  
1.98%
Others
  
0.71%
  
 
All Conservative Parties
  
53.75%
All Labour Parties
  
8.91%
All Liberal Parties
  
23.2%
All Irish Nationalist Parties
  
11.32%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mowat (1955), p. 3.
  2. ^ McEwen (1962), p. 295
  3. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (1976). English History, 1914–1945. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 127–128. ISBN 0198217153. 
  4. ^ Mowat (1955), p. 9.
  5. ^ http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp2008/rp08-012.pdf

Further reading[edit]

  • 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. 

External links[edit]