1885 United Kingdom general election
The 1885 United Kingdom general election was held from 24 November to 18 December 1885. This was the first general election after an extension of the redistribution of seats. For the first time a majority of adult males could vote and most constituencies by law returned a single member to Parliament fulfilling one of the ideals of Chartism to provide direct single-member, single-electorate accountability, it saw the Liberals, led by William Ewart Gladstone, win the most seats, but not an overall majority. As the Irish Nationalists held the balance of power between them and the Conservatives who sat with an increasing number of allied Unionist MPs, this exacerbated divisions within the Liberals over Irish Home Rule and led to a Liberal split and another general election the following year; the 1885 election saw the first socialist party participate, with the Social Democratic Federation led by H. M. Hyndman running three candidates. List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1885 Parliamentary franchise in the United Kingdom 1885–1918 Representation of the People Act 1884 Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 Craig, F. W. S.
British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302 Rallings, Colin. British Electoral Facts 1832–1999, Ashgate Publishing Ltd Walker, Brian, "The 1885 and 1886 General Elections in Ireland", History Ireland, 13: 36–40, JSTOR 27725365 Spartacus: Political Parties and Election Results United Kingdom election results—summary results 1885–1979
Liberal Unionist Party
The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party, formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party. Led by Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain, the party formed a political alliance with the Conservative Party in opposition to Irish Home Rule; the two parties formed the ten-year-long coalition Unionist Government 1895–1905 but kept separate political funds and their own party organisations until a complete merger was agreed in May 1912. The Liberal Unionists owe their origins to the conversion of William Ewart Gladstone to the cause of Irish Home Rule; the 1885 General Election had left Charles Stewart Parnell's Irish Nationalists holding the balance of power, had convinced Gladstone that the Irish wanted and deserved reinstatement of Home Rule for Ireland and so end 85 years of union. Some Liberals believed that Gladstone's Home Rule bill would lead to independence for Ireland and the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which they could not countenance.
Seeing themselves as defenders of the Union, they called themselves "Liberal Unionists", although at this stage most of them did not think the split from their former colleagues would be permanent. Gladstone preferred to call them "dissentient Liberals" as if he believed they would come back like the "Adullamites", Liberals who had opposed the extension of the franchise in 1866 but had come back to the main party after the Conservatives had passed their own electoral reform bill in 1867. In the end it did not matter what the Liberal Unionists were called, the schism in the Liberal party grew wider and deeper within a few years; the majority of Liberal Unionists, including Hartington, Lord Lansdowne, George Goschen, were drawn from the Whig faction of the party and had been expected to split from the Liberal Party anyway, for reasons connected with economic and social policy. Some of the Unionists held extensive landed estates in Ireland and feared these would be broken up or confiscated if Ireland had its own government, while Hartington had suffered a personal loss at the hands of Irish Nationalists in 1882 when his brother was killed during the Phoenix Park Murders.
The anti-Home Rule Liberals formed a Committee for the Preservation of the Union in early 1886, were soon joined by a smaller radical faction led by Joseph Chamberlain and John Bright. Chamberlain had taken office in the Gladstone government, formed in 1886 but resigned when he saw the details of Gladstone's Home Rule plans; as Chamberlain had been a standard bearer of radical liberalism against the Whigs, his adherence to the alliance against the Gladstonian Liberals came as a surprise. When the dissident Liberals formed the Liberal Unionist Council, to become the Liberal Unionist party, Chamberlain organised the separate National Radical Union in Birmingham; this allowed Chamberlain and his immediate allies to distance themselves from the main body of Liberal Unionism and left open the possibility that they could work with the Liberal party in the future. In 1889 the National Radical Union changed its name to the National Liberal Union and remained a separate organisation from the main Liberal Unionist Council.
Historian R. C. K. Ensor reports that after 1886, Gladstone's main Liberal Party was deserted by the entire whig peerage and the great majority of the upper-class and upper-middle-class Liberals. High prestige London clubs that had a Liberal base were split. Ensor notes that "London society, following the known views of the Queen ostracized home rulers". Chamberlain used anti-Catholicism to build a base for the new party among "Orange" Nonconformist Protestant elements in Britain and Ireland. John Bright popularised the catchy slogan, "Home rule means Rome rule." The 1886 election left the Conservatives as the largest party in the House of Commons, but without an overall majority. The leading Liberal Unionists were invited to join the Conservative Lord Salisbury's government. Salisbury said he was willing to let Hartington become Prime Minister of a coalition ministry but the latter declined. In part, Hartington was worried this would split the Liberal Unionists and lose them votes from pro-Unionist Liberal supporters.
The Liberal Unionists, despite providing the necessary margin for Salisbury's majority, continued to sit on the opposition benches throughout the life of the parliament, Hartington and Chamberlain uneasily shared the opposition Front Bench with their former colleagues Gladstone and Harcourt. In December 1886, when Lord Randolph Churchill resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Salisbury offered the position to Goschen, by far the most conservative of the leading Liberal Unionists. After consulting Hartington, Goschen agreed to join the Conservative government and remained Chancellor for the next six years. While the Whiggish wing of the Liberal Unionists cooperated informally with the Conservative Government, the party's Radical Unionist wing held a series of meetings with their former Liberal colleagues. Led by Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan, the Round Table Conference was an attempt to see if reunion of the Liberal party was possible. Despite some progress, the problem of Home Rule for Ireland could not be resolved.
Neither Hartington nor Gladstone took a direct part in these meetings, there seemed to be no other Liberal statesman who could reunite the party. Within a few months the talks were over, though some Liberal Unionists, including Trevelyan rejoined the Liberal Party soon after; the failed talks
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and to the electorate; the office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016; the office is not established by any statute or constitutional document but exists only by long-established convention, which stipulates that the monarch must appoint as Prime Minister the person most to command the confidence of the House of Commons. The position of Prime Minister was not created; the office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective. The origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament.
Although the Sovereign was not stripped of the ancient prerogative powers and remained the head of government, politically it became necessary for him or her to govern through a Prime Minister who could command a majority in Parliament. By the 1830s the Westminster system of government had emerged; the political position of Prime Minister was enhanced by the development of modern political parties, the introduction of mass communication, photography. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged. Prior to 1902, the Prime Minister sometimes came from the House of Lords, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons; however as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the Prime Minister should always sit in the lower house. As leader of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's authority was further enhanced by the Parliament Act 1911 which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process.
The Prime Minister is ex officio First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. Certain privileges, such as residency of 10 Downing Street, are accorded to Prime Ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury; the status of the position as Prime Minister means that the incumbent is ranked as one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. The Prime Minister is the head of the United Kingdom government; as such, the modern Prime Minister leads the Cabinet. In addition, the Prime Minister leads a major political party and commands a majority in the House of Commons; the incumbent wields both significant legislative and executive powers. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party. In an executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints all other Cabinet members and ministers, co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, the staff of the Civil Service.
The Prime Minister acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many statutory and prerogative powers, including high judicial, political and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; the British system of government is based on an uncodified constitution, meaning that it is not set out in any single document. The British constitution consists of many documents and most for the evolution of the Office of the Prime Minister, it is based on customs known as constitutional conventions that became accepted practice. In 1928, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs:In this country we live... under an unwritten Constitution. It is true that we have on the Statute-book great instruments like Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights which define and secure many of our rights and privileges, they rest on usage, convention of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.
The relationships between the Prime Minister and the Sovereign and Cabinet are defined by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the Prime Minister's executive and legislative powers are royal prerogatives which are still formally vested in the Sovereign, who remains the head of state. Despite its growing
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone was a British statesman and Liberal Party politician. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served for twelve years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times. Gladstone was born in Liverpool to Scottish parents, he first entered the House of Commons in 1832, beginning his political career as a High Tory, a grouping which became the Conservative Party under Robert Peel in 1834. Gladstone served as a minister in both of Peel's governments, in 1846 joined the breakaway Peelite faction, which merged into the new Liberal Party in 1859, he was Chancellor under Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell. Gladstone's own political doctrine—which emphasised equality of opportunity, free trade, laissez-faire economic policies—came to be known as Gladstonian liberalism, his popularity amongst the working-class earned him the sobriquet "The People's William". In 1868, Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time.
Many reforms were passed during his first ministry, including the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and the introduction of secret voting. After electoral defeat in 1874, Gladstone resigned as leader of the Liberal Party, his Midlothian Campaign of 1879–80 was an early example of many modern political campaigning techniques. After the 1880 general election, Gladstone formed his second ministry, which saw the passage of the Third Reform Act as well as crises in Egypt and Ireland, where his government passed repressive measures but improved the legal rights of Irish tenant farmers. Back in office in early 1886, Gladstone proposed home rule for Ireland but was defeated in the House of Commons; the resulting split in the Liberal Party helped keep them out of office—with one short break—for twenty years. Gladstone formed his last government in 1892, at the age of 82; the Second Home Rule Bill passed through the Commons but was defeated in the House of Lords in 1893. Gladstone left office in March 1894, aged 84, as both the oldest person to serve as Prime Minister and the only Prime Minister to have served four terms.
He died three years later. Gladstone was known affectionately by his supporters as "The People's William" or the "G. O. M.". Historians call him one of Britain's greatest leaders. Born in 1809 in Liverpool, at 62 Rodney Street, William Ewart Gladstone was the fourth son of the merchant John Gladstone, his second wife, Anne MacKenzie Robertson. In 1835, the family name was changed from Gladstones to Gladstone by royal licence, his father was made a baronet, of Fasque and Balfour, in 1846. Although born and brought up in Liverpool, William Gladstone was of purely Scottish ancestry, his grandfather Thomas Gladstones was a prominent merchant from Leith, his maternal grandfather, Andrew Robertson, was Provost of Dingwall and a Sheriff-Substitute of Ross-shire. His biographer John Morley described him as "a highlander in the custody of a lowlander", an adversary as "an ardent Italian in the custody of a Scotsman". One of his earliest childhood memories was being made to stand on a table and say "Ladies and gentlemen" to the assembled audience at a gathering to promote the election of George Canning as MP for Liverpool in 1812.
In 1814, young "Willy" visited Scotland for the first time, as he and his brother John travelled with their father to Edinburgh and Dingwall to visit their relatives. Willy and his brother were both made freemen of the burgh of Dingwall. In 1815, Gladstone travelled to London and Cambridge for the first time with his parents. Whilst in London, he attended a service of thanksgiving with his family at St Paul's Cathedral following the Battle of Waterloo, where he saw the Prince Regent. William Gladstone was educated from 1816–1821 at a preparatory school at the vicarage of St. Thomas' Church at Seaforth, close to his family's residence, Seaforth House. In 1821, William followed in the footsteps of his elder brothers and attended Eton College before matriculating in 1828 at Christ Church, where he read Classics and Mathematics, although he had no great interest in the latter subject. In December 1831, he achieved the double first-class degree. Gladstone served as President of the Oxford Union, where he developed a reputation as an orator, which followed him into the House of Commons.
At university, Gladstone was a denounced Whig proposals for parliamentary reform. Following the success of his double first, William travelled with his brother John on a Grand Tour of Europe, visiting Belgium, France and Italy. Upon his return to England, William was elected to Parliament in 1832 as a Tory Member of Parliament for Newark through the influence of the local patron, the Duke of Newcastle. Although Gladstone entered Lincoln's Inn in 1833, with intentions of becoming a barrister, by 1839 he had requested that his name should be removed from the list because he no longer intended to be called to the Bar. In the House of Commons, Gladstone was a disciple of High Toryism and, as a scion of one of the largest slave-holding families in the world, he opposed both the abolition of slavery and factory legislation. Gladstone's father was a slave owner.
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and won a landslide victory in the following year's general election. Under Prime Ministers Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith, the Liberal Party passed the welfare reforms that created a basic British welfare state. Although Asquith was the party's leader, its dominant figure was David Lloyd George. Asquith was overwhelmed by the wartime role of coalition Prime Minister and Lloyd George replaced him as Prime Minister in late 1916, but Asquith remained as Liberal Party leader; the pair fought for years over control of the party.
Historian Martin Pugh in The Oxford Companion to British History argues: Lloyd George made a greater impact on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war introduction of Britain's social welfare system. Furthermore, in foreign affairs, he played a leading role in winning the First World War, redrawing the map of Europe at the peace conference, partitioning Ireland; the government of Lloyd George was dominated by the Conservative Party, which deposed him in 1922. By the end of the 1920s, the Labour Party had replaced the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rival; the party went into decline after 1918 and by the 1950s won no more than six seats at general elections. Apart from notable by-election victories, its fortunes did not improve until it formed the SDP–Liberal Alliance with the newly formed Social Democratic Party in 1981. At the 1983 general election, the Alliance won over a quarter of the vote, but only 23 of the 650 seats it contested. At the 1987 general election, its share of the vote fell below 23% and the Liberal and Social Democratic parties merged in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.
A splinter group reconstituted the Liberal Party in 1989. It was formed by party members opposed to the merger who saw the Liberal Democrats diluting Liberal ideals. Prominent intellectuals associated with the Liberal Party include the philosopher John Stuart Mill, the economist John Maynard Keynes and social planner William Beveridge; the Liberal Party grew out of the Whigs, who had their origins in an aristocratic faction in the reign of Charles II and the early 19th century Radicals. The Whigs were in favour of increasing the power of Parliament. Although their motives in this were to gain more power for themselves, the more idealistic Whigs came to support an expansion of democracy for its own sake; the great figures of reformist Whiggery were Charles James Fox and his disciple and successor Earl Grey. After decades in opposition, the Whigs returned to power under Grey in 1830 and carried the First Reform Act in 1832; the Reform Act was the climax of Whiggism, but it brought about the Whigs' demise.
The admission of the middle classes to the franchise and to the House of Commons led to the development of a systematic middle class liberalism and the end of Whiggery, although for many years reforming aristocrats held senior positions in the party. In the years after Grey's retirement, the party was led first by Lord Melbourne, a traditional Whig, by Lord John Russell, the son of a Duke but a crusading radical, by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and a conservative, although capable of radical gestures; as early as 1839, Russell had adopted the name of "Liberals", but in reality his party was a loose coalition of Whigs in the House of Lords and Radicals in the Commons. The leading Radicals were John Bright and Richard Cobden, who represented the manufacturing towns which had gained representation under the Reform Act, they favoured social reform, personal liberty, reducing the powers of the Crown and the Church of England, avoidance of war and foreign alliances and above all free trade.
For a century, free trade remained the one cause. In 1841, the Liberals lost office to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, but their period in opposition was short because the Conservatives split over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a free trade issue; this allowed ministries led by Russell and the Peelite Lord Aberdeen to hold office for most of the 1850s and 1860s. A leading Peelite was William Ewart Gladstone, a reforming Chancellor of the Exchequer in most of these governments; the formal foundation of the Liberal Party is traditionally traced to 1859 and the formation of Palmerston's second government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam could not become a true modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not until the departure of the "Two Terrible Old Men", Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone could become the first leader of the modern Liberal Party; this was brought about by Palmerston's death in 1865 and Russell's retirement in 1868. After a brief Conservative government, Gladstone won a huge victory at the 1868 election and formed the first Liberal government.
1892 United Kingdom general election
The 1892 United Kingdom general election was held from 4 July to 26 July 1892. It saw the Conservatives, led by Lord Salisbury, win the greatest number of seats, but not enough for an overall majority as William Ewart Gladstone's Liberals won many more seats than in the 1886 general election; the Liberal Unionists who had supported the Conservative government saw their vote and seat numbers go down. Despite being split between Parnellite and anti-Parnellite factions, the Irish Nationalist vote held up well; as the Liberals did not have a majority on their own, Salisbury refused to resign on hearing the election results and waited to be defeated in a vote of no confidence on 11 August. Gladstone formed a minority government dependent on Irish Nationalist support; the Liberals had engaged in failed attempts at reunification between 1886 and 1887. Gladstone however was able to retain control of much of the Liberal party machinery in the form of the constituency organisation known as the National Liberal Federation.
Gladstone used the annual NLF meetings as a platform to consolidate various Liberal causes the Newcastle meeting of 1891, which gave its name to the radical Newcastle programme. This programme placed Irish Home Rule first, followed by Welsh and Scottish disestablishment, reduction in factory work hours, free education, electoral reform, land reform, reform or abolition of the House of Lords, the removal of duties on basic foods; this programme would be disowned by the party leadership following the Liberal defeat in the 1895 election. The election saw the election of Britain's first Asian MP, with Dadabhai Naoroji being elected for Finsbury Central. MPs elected in the UK general election, 1892 Parliamentary franchise in the United Kingdom 1885–1918 Spartacus: Political Parties and Election Results United Kingdom election results—summary results 1885–1979