1918 United Kingdom general election
The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War, was held on Saturday, 14 December 1918. The governing coalition, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, sent letters of endorsement to candidates who supported the coalition government; these were nicknamed "Coalition Coupons", led to the election being known as the "coupon election". The result was a massive landslide in favour of the coalition, comprising the Conservatives and Coalition Liberals, with massive losses for Liberals who were not endorsed. Nearly all the Liberal M. P.s without coupons were defeated, although party leader H. H. Asquith managed to return to Parliament in a by-election, it was the first general election to include on a single day all eligible voters of the United Kingdom, although the vote count was delayed until 28 December so that the ballots cast by soldiers serving overseas could be included in the tallies. It resulted in a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George, who had replaced H. H. Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916.
They were both Liberals and continued to battle for control of the party, fast losing popular support and never regained power. It was the first general election to be held after enactment of the Representation of the People Act 1918, it was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, all men over the age of 21, could vote. All women and many poor men had been excluded from voting. Women showed enormous patriotism, supported the coalition candidates, it was the first parliamentary election in which women were able to stand as candidates following the Parliament Act 1918, believed to be one of the shortest Acts of Parliament given Royal Assent. The Act was passed shortly, it followed a report by Law Officers that the Great Reform Act 1832 had specified parliamentary candidates had to be male and that the Representation of the People Act passed earlier in the year did not change that. One women, Nina Boyle, had presented herself for a by election earlier in the year in Keighley but had been turned down by the returning officer on technical grounds.
The election was noted for the dramatic result in Ireland, which showed clear disapproval of government policy. The Irish Parliamentary Party were completely wiped out by the Irish republican party Sinn Féin, who vowed in their manifesto to establish an independent Irish Republic, they refused to take their seats in Westminster, instead forming a breakaway government and declaring Irish independence. The Irish War of Independence began soon after the election. Lloyd George's coalition government was supported by the majority of the Liberals and 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, sitting since 1910 and had been extended by emergency wartime action, would dissolve on 25 November, with elections on 14 December. 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, 2 Coalition Labour candidates received the coupon. For this reason the election is called 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 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 emphasised. Against his strong record in social legislation, he called for making "a country fit for heroes to live in".
This election was known as a khaki election, due to the immediate postwar setting and the role of the demobilised soldiers. The coalition won the election 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; the Conservatives welcomed his leadership on foreign policy as the Paris Peace talks began a few weeks after the election. 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. Nine of these MPs subsequently joined the Coalition Liberal group; the remainder became bitter enemies of Lloyd George. The Labour Party increased its vote share and surpassed the total votes of either Liberal party.
Labour became the Official Opposition for the first time, but they lacked an official leader and so the Leader of the Opposition for the next fourteen months was the stand-in Liberal leader Donald Maclean (Asquith
William O'Brien was an Irish nationalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, party leader, newspaper publisher and Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He was associated with the campaigns for land reform in Ireland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as his conciliatory approach to attaining Irish Home Rule. William O'Brien was born at Bank Place in Mallow, County Cork, as second son of James O'Brien, a solicitor's clerk, his wife Kate, the daughter of James Nagle, a local shopkeeper. On his mother's side he was descended from the distinguished Norman family of Nagles, long settled in the vicinity of Mallow giving their name to the nearby Nagle Mountains, he was linked through his mother with the statesman Edmund Burke's mother's family, as well as with the poet Edmund Spencer's family. The Nagles however, no longer held the prosperity they once had. In the same month thirty-eight years earlier Thomas Davis was born in Mallow.
O'Brien's advocacy of the cause of Irish Independence was to be in the same true tradition of his esteemed fellow-townsman. Following in his footsteps he acknowledged the existence of many strands of Irishness. O'Brien shared his primary education with a townsman with whom he was to have a close political connection, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile, he enjoyed his secondary education at the Cloyne diocesan college, which resulted in his being brought up in an environment noted for its religious tolerance. He valued having had this experience from an early age, which influenced his views for the need of such tolerance in Irish national life. Financial misfortune in 1868 caused the O'Brien family to move to Cork City. A year his father died, the illness of his elder and younger brother and his sister resulted in him having to support his mother and siblings. Always a prolific writer, it earned him a job as newspaper reporter, first for the Cork Daily Herald; this was to be the primary career. He had begun legal studies at Queen's College University College Cork, but although he never graduated, he held a lifelong attachment to the institution, to which he bequeathed his private papers.
From an early age O'Brien's political ideas, like most of his contemporaries, were shaped by the Fenian movement and the plight of the Irish tenant farmers, his elder brother having participated in the rebellion of 1867. It resulted in O'Brien himself becoming involved with the Fenian brotherhood, resigning in the mid-1870s, because of what he described in'Evening Memories' as "the gloom of inevitable failure and horrible punishment inseparable from any attempt at separation by force of arms"; as a journalist his attention was attracted in the first place to the suffering of the tenant farmers. Now on the staff of the Freeman's Journal, after touring the Galtee Mountains around Christmas 1877 he published articles describing their conditions, which appeared in pamphlet form. With this action he first displayed his belief that only through parliamentary reform and with the new power of the press that public opinion could be influenced to pursue Irish issues constitutionally through open political activity and the ballot box.
Not least of all, responding to the hopes of the new Irish Home Rule movement. In 1878 he met Charles Stewart Parnell MP at a Home Rule meeting. Parnell recognised his exceptional talents as a journalist and writer, influencing his rise to becoming a leading politician of the new generation, he subsequently appointed him in 1881 as editor of the Irish National Land League's journal, United Ireland. His association with Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party led to his arrest and imprisonment with Parnell, William Redmond and other nationalist leaders in Kilmainham Gaol that October. During his imprisonment until April 1882 he drafted the famous Land War No Rent Manifesto – a rent-withholding scheme led by O'Brien, escalating the conflict between the Land League and Gladstone's government. From 1883–1885 O'Brien was elected MP for Mallow. Following the abolition of that constituency he represented Tyrone South from 1885 to 1886, North East Cork from 1887–1892, Cork City from 1892–1895 and from 1901–1918, in the House of Commons.
There were three periods of absence: 1886-7, from 1895–1900, eight months in 1904. Amid the turmoil of Irish politics in the late 19th century he was arrested and imprisoned for his support for various Land League protests. In 1884, through the newspaper United Ireland he incited a sensational homosexual scandal involving officers at Dublin Castle. In 1887 O'Brien helped to organise a rent strike during the Plan of Campaign at the estate of Lady Kingston near Mitchelstown, County Cork. On 9 September, after an 8,000-strong demonstration led by John Dillon MP, three estate tenants were shot dead, others wounded, by police at the town's courthouse where O'Brien had been brought for trial on charges of incitement under a new Coercion Act; this event became known as the Mitchelstown Massacre. That year, thousands of demonstrators marched in London to demand his release from prison, clashed with police at Trafalgar Square on Bloody Sunday. In prison, O'Brien continued his protests, refusing to wear prison uniform in 1887.
Being left without clothes, a Blarney tweed suit was smuggled in. He wore this much publicised suit in the Commons when confronting his incarcerator, Arthur Balfour, his imprisonment inspired protests – notably the 1887'Bloody Sunday' riots in London. In 1889 he escaped from a courtroom but was sentenced in absent
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith known as H. H. Asquith, was a British statesman and Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916, he was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, he played a central role in the design and passage of major liberal legislation and a reduction of the power of the House of Lords. In August 1914, Asquith took the British Empire into the First World War. In 1915, his government was vigorously attacked for a shortage of munitions and the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign, he failed to satisfy critics. As a result, he was forced to resign in December 1916, he never regained power. After attending Balliol College, Oxford, he became a successful barrister. In 1886, he was the Liberal candidate for a seat he held for over thirty years. In 1892, he was appointed as Home Secretary in Gladstone's fourth ministry, remaining in the post until the Liberals lost the 1895 election. In the decade of opposition that followed, Asquith became a major figure in the party, when the Liberals regained power under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in 1905, Asquith was named Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In 1908, Asquith succeeded him as Prime Minister. The Liberals were determined to advance their reform agenda. An impediment to this was the House of Lords, which rejected the People's Budget of 1909. Meanwhile the South Africa Act 1909 passed. Asquith called an election for January 1910, the Liberals won, though were reduced to a minority government. After another general election in December 1910 he gained passage of the Parliament Act 1911, allowing a bill three times passed by the Commons in consecutive sessions to be enacted regardless of the Lords. Asquith was less successful in dealing with Irish Home Rule. Repeated crises led to gun violence, verging on civil war; when Britain declared war on Germany in response to the German invasion of Belgium, high profile conflicts were suspended regarding Ireland and women's suffrage. Although more of a committee chair than a dynamic leader, he oversaw national mobilisation; the war became bogged down and the demand rose for better leadership. He was forced to form a coalition with the Conservatives and Labour early in 1915.
He was weakened by his own indecision over strategy and financing. Lloyd George replaced him as Prime Minister in December 1916, they fought for control of the fast-declining Liberal Party. His role in creating the modern British welfare state has been celebrated, but his weaknesses as a war leader and as a party leader after 1914 have been highlighted by historians. Asquith was born in Morley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the younger son of Joseph Dixon Asquith and his wife Emily, née Willans; the couple had three daughters, of whom only one survived infancy. The Asquiths were an old Yorkshire family, with a long nonconformist tradition, it was a matter of family pride, shared by Asquith, that an ancestor, Joseph Asquith, was imprisoned for his part in the pro-Roundhead Farnley Wood Plot of 1664. Both Asquith's parents came from families associated with the Yorkshire wool trade. Dixon Asquith inherited the Gillroyd Mill Company, founded by his father. Emily's father, William Willans, ran a successful wool-trading business in Huddersfield.
Both families were middle-class, Congregationalist, politically radical. Dixon was a mild man, cultivated and in his son's words "not cut out" for a business career, he was described as "a man of high character who held Bible classes for young men". Emily suffered persistent poor health, but was of strong character, a formative influence on her sons. In his younger days he was called Herbert within the family, his biographer Stephen Koss entitled the first chapter of his biography "From Herbert to Henry", referring to upward social mobility and his abandonment of his Yorkshire Nonconformist roots with his second marriage. However, in public, he was invariably referred to only as H. H. Asquith. "There have been few major national figures whose Christian names were less well known to the public" according to biographer Roy Jenkins. He and his brother were educated at home by their parents until 1860, when Dixon Asquith died suddenly. Willans took charge of the family, moved them to a house near his own, arranged for the boys' schooling.
After a year at Huddersfield College they were sent as boarders to a Moravian Church school at Fulneck, near Leeds. In 1863 Willans died, the family came under the care of Emily's brother, John; the boys went to live with him in London. The biographer Naomi Levine writes that in effect Asquith was "treated like an orphan" for the rest of his childhood; the departure of his uncle severed Asquith's ties with his native Yorkshire, he described himself thereafter as "to all intents and purposes a Londoner". Another biographer, H. C. G. Matthew, writes that Asquith's northern nonconformist background continued to influence him: "It gave him a point of sturdy anti-establishmentarian reference, important to a man whose life in other respects was a long absorption into metropolitanism."The boys were sent to the City of London School as dayboys. Under the school's headmaster, the Rev E. A. Abbott, a distinguished classical scholar, A
John Edward Redmond was an Irish nationalist politician, MP in the British House of Commons. He was best known as leader of the moderate Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 until his death in 1918, he was leader of the paramilitary organisation the Irish National Volunteers. He was born to an old prominent Catholic family in rural Ireland, he took over control of the minority IPP faction loyal to Charles Stewart Parnell when that leader died in 1891. Redmond was a conciliatory politician who achieved the two main objectives of his political life: party unity and, in September 1914, the passing of the Irish Home Rule Act; the Act granted limited self-government within the United Kingdom. However, implementation of Home Rule was suspended by the outbreak of the First World War. Redmond called on the National Volunteers to join Irish regiments of the New British Army and support the British and Allied war effort to restore the "freedom of small nations" on the European continent, thereby to ensure the implementation of Home Rule after a war, expected to be of short duration.
However, after the Easter Rising of 1916, Irish public opinion shifted in favour of militant republicanism and full Irish independence, so that his party lost its dominance in Irish politics. In sharp contrast to Parnell, Redmond lacked charisma, he had little success in arousing large audiences. Parnell always chose the nominees to Parliament. Now they were selected by the local party organisations, giving Redmond numerous weak MPs over whom he had little control. Redmond was an excellent representative of the old Ireland, but grew old-fashioned because he paid little attention to the new forces attracting younger Irishmen, such as Sinn Féin in politics, the Gaelic Athletic Association in sports, the Gaelic League in cultural affairs, he never tried to understand the unionist forces emerging in Ulster. Redmond was further weakened in 1914 by the formation by Sinn Féin members of the Irish Volunteers, his enthusiastic support for the British war effort alienated many Irish nationalists. His party had been hollowed out, a major crisis—notably the Easter Rising—was enough to destroy it.
John Edward Redmond was born at Ballytrent House, County Wexford, his grandfather's old family mansion. He was the eldest son of William Archer Redmond, MP by Mary, daughter of General Hoey, the brother of Francis Hoey, heir of the Hoey seat, Dunganstown Castle, County Wicklow. For over seven hundred years the Redmonds had been a prominent Catholic gentry family in County Wexford and Wexford town, they were one of the oldest Hiberno-Norman families, had for a long time been known as the Redmonds of'The Hall', now known as Loftus Hall. His more immediate family were a remarkable political dynasty themselves. Redmond's grand uncle, John Edward Redmond, was a prominent banker and businessman before entering Parliament as a member for Wexford constituency in 1859. After his death in 1866, his nephew, William Archer Redmond, this John Redmond's father, was elected to the seat and soon emerged as a prominent supporter of Isaac Butt's new policy for home rule. John Redmond was the brother of Willie Redmond, MP for Wexford and East Clare, the father of William Redmond, whose wife was Bridget Redmond.
Redmond's family heritage was more complex than that of most of his nationalist political colleagues. His mother came from a unionist family, his uncle General John Patrick Redmond, who had inherited the family estate, was created CB for his role during the Indian mutiny. John Redmond boasted of his family involvement in the 1798 Wexford Rebellion; as a student, young John exhibited the seriousness. Educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, he was interested in poetry and literature, played the lead in school theatricals and was regarded as the best speaker in the school's debating society. After finishing at Clongowes, Redmond attended Trinity College, Dublin to study law, but his father's ill-health led him to abandon his studies before taking a degree. In 1876 he left to live with his father in London, acting as his assistant in Westminster, where he developed more fascination for politics than for law, he first came into contact with Michael Davitt on the occasion of a reception held in London to celebrate the release of the famous Fenian prisoner.
As a clerk in the House of Commons he identified himself with the fortunes of Charles Stewart Parnell, one of the founders of the Irish Land League and a noted'obstructionist' in the Commons. Redmond first attended political meetings with Parnell in 1879. Upon his father's death in 1880, he wrote to Parnell asking for adoption as the Nationalist Party candidate in the by-election to fill the open seat, but was disappointed to learn that Parnell had promised the next vacancy to his secretary Timothy Healy. Redmond supported Healy as the nominee, when another vacancy arose, this time in New Ross, he won election unopposed as the Parnellite candidate for the seat. On election, he rushed to the House of Commons, made his maiden speech next day amid stormy scenes following the arrest of Michael Davitt a Land League leader, a
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
City of London (UK Parliament constituency)
The City of London was a United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1950; this borough constituency consisted of the City of London, at the centre of Greater London. Bounded south by the Thames, the City adjoins Westminster westward, enfranchised in 1545. In other directions a web of tiny liberties and parishes of diverse size adjoined from medieval times until the 20th century. Most of the population of Middlesex was beyond the city's boundaries. From the 17th century three of four new'divisions' of Ossulstone Hundred adjoined the city reflecting their relative density — Holborn division and Finsbury division to the north and Tower division to the north-east and the east, all enfranchised in 1832. London is first known to have been enfranchised and represented in Parliament in 1298; because it was the most important city in England it received four seats in Parliament instead of the normal two for a constituency.
Previous to 1298 from the middle of that century, the intermittent first Parliaments, the area's households could turn to their Middlesex "two knights of the shire" – two members of the Commons – as to their interests in Parliament as the City formed part of the geographic county yet from early times wielded independent administration, its Corporation. The City was represented by four MPs until 1885, when this was cut to two, in 1950 the constituency was abolished; the City of London was a densely populated area. Before the Reform Act 1832 the composition of the City electorate was not as democratic as that of some other borough constituencies, such as neighbouring Westminster; the right of election was held by members of the Livery Companies. However the size and wealth of the community meant that it had more voters than most other borough constituencies. Namier and Brooke estimated the size of the City electorate, in the latter part of the 18th century, at about 7,000. Only Westminster had a larger size of electorate.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the metropolitan area of London expanded greatly. The resident population of the City fell. People moved to suburbs; however the City authorities did not want to extend their jurisdiction beyond the traditional "square mile" so the constituency was left unchanged as its resident population fell. By 1900 all electors in the City qualified through Livery Company membership and lived outside of the City; the business voters were a type of plural voter which when abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1948 meant the City became under-sized in electorate, akin to the least-worst examples of pre-1832 "rotten and pocket boroughs". In 1950 the area was merged for Parliamentary purposes with the eldest parts of the neighbouring City of Westminster, to form the seat Cities of London and Westminster; the pre-1900 heavily-subdivided city became simplified for the period 1907 and 1965 into one civil parish, before in that year this level of local government complication was taken away.
Statutory protection applied between 1986 and 2011 to prevent division of the City between seats:- There shall continue to be a constituency which shall include the whole of the City of London and the name of which shall refer to the City of London" See City of London for citizens known to have represented the City in Parliament before 1707 Note:- Expelled In multi-member elections the bloc voting system was used. Voters could cast a vote for one to four candidates; the leading candidates with the largest number of votes were elected. In 1868 the limited vote was introduced, which restricted an individual elector to using one, two or three votes, in elections to fill four seats. In by-elections, to fill a single seat, the first past the post system applied. After 1832, when registration of voters was introduced, a turnout figure is given for contested elections. In multi-member elections, when the exact number of participating voters is unknown, this is calculated by dividing the number of votes by four and two thereafter.
To the extent that electors did not use all their votes this will be an underestimate of turnout. Where a party had more than one candidate in one or both of a pair of successive elections change is calculated for each individual candidate, otherwise change is based on the party vote. Candidates for whom no party has been identified are classified as Non Partisan; the candidate might have been associated with a party or faction in Parliament or consider himself to belong to a particular political tradition. Political parties before the 19th century were not as cohesive or organised as they became. Contemporary commentators in the 18th century did not agree who the party supporters were; the traditional parties, which had arisen in the late 17th century, became irrelevant to politics in the 18th century, although for some contests in some constituencies party labels were still used. It was only towards the end of the century that party labels began to acquire some meaning again, although this process was by no means complete for several more generations.
Sources: The results are based on the History of Parliament Trust's volumes on the House of Commons in various periods from 1715–1820, Stooks Smith from 1820 until 1832 and Craig from 1832. Where Stooks Smith gives additional information this is indicated in a note. See references below for fur
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened